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Introspective Holidays

October 13, 2008

So…the two biggie holidays for Jews are just past. Smack in the middle of two weeks in a row. These holidays demand introspection, self-examination and, if possible, reflective self-improvement. Despite a chronically busy life, I always enjoy these holidays, and the accompanying thoughtfulness. It was hard this year, however, to focus inward with the world crashing down around our ears and the election looming as one of the most important of my lifetime. There is a line in our liturgy that says something like, this group confession is ok if you have offended God, but it is not good enough if you have hurt another person. For that, you must make real amends. I don’t actually think too many people notice this, or take it particularly seriously. I like this idea a lot; that what you do to real people, here on earth, during your lifetime, is what really counts. In other words, say what you will, its your actions that count. We could all use a little of this. A little less greed, arrogance, self-righteousness and a little more empathy, compassion and humility. This might have been a good idea on Wall Street too, even in the presidency (think about the war that only three people now think is a good thing – McCain, Cheney, Bush). Think what a legacy those qualities might have achieved. Sadly, we are not used to seeing these qualities in our leaders. Obviously a certain amount of confidence, even certitude, is good in a leader. But I think this may be part of what seems so unfamiliar about Obama, he does not come across as arrogant and self-righteous and it is alien. As personal disasters spread across our country and our world like a virus, we will need all the empathy, compassion and humility we can get…and a happy new year to you too.

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