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(Community) Some thoughts shared by Hazzan Sharon Grainer

Discussion in 'Other Hot Topics' started by Ellen, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Although this was sent as a message to think about for a particular Jewish holy day, there is relevance for our diabetes community as well.

    High Holy Days 2010: Some thoughts I had and shared

    by Sharon Grainer on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 4:56pm

    I am obsessed. I am obsessed these days with ideas of perspective and truth. In recent months, when catching the odd episode of Law and Order, a common courtroom line ? that isn't meant to drive the plot, create character development or reveal some hidden political message that a frustrated writer at NBC managed to weave into the dialogue ?? Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?? The more years I'm on this earth, the more interactions I have with individuals, the more I think I truly understand the need for an oath like this in a court case.

    Two people can witness the exact same incident, but when recalling it, each person can have a totally different perspective as to what the 'Truth' was, down to each detail. Ok, simple so far, right? Maybe you're thinking, 'Mazel tov*, Hazzan*, you've figured out the obvious!' Yes, simple, but this elementary observation has been resonating more significantly in my daily interactions with people in recent months. Is it because of the political climate in this country and around the world? Because of the detriment to the environment due to human actions? To me, black and white thinking is the culprit; it's running rampant these days. I'm not saying that black and white thinking is always wrong. I can state in black and white language that human trafficking, slavery, racism, sexual abuse are wrong. What I am saying is that black and white thinking is being taken too far. It is outweighing comprehensive thought.

    Even when there are absolute rights and are absolute wrongs, we get entangled in the details. We precipitously engage in black and white thinking. These details divide relationships and communities and nations and the world. Black and white thinking is the ultimate, invisible wall of protection that we build around ourselves, cutting us off from others. Absolute truth to me may not be absolute truth to someone else. If I enter a conversation on any topic with the assumption that I am 100% right, then I'm saying that anyone who disagrees with me is 100% wrong. This is not an effective way to start a conversation.

    The biggest problem with black and white thinking is that it usually does battle in a world nuanced in shades of grey. Black and white thinking is dichotomous thinking ? it sets us and others up to fall. Grey areas allow for compassion, understanding, empathy. To evaluate right and wrong, we must take into account black, white, and the full spectrum of grey. Is there right and wrong? Yes. Are we always going to identify it properly? No. And where we really go wrong is when we believe that we have all the answers.

    Each one of us has unique perspectives on every thing, every day. People think differently regarding societal trends, politics, culture, and family. There are billions of ways to approach 'the truth' as it relates to facts, ideals, ideas, and diverse schools-of-thought. I think that on some level we all get this, but often forget to truly respect this fact when interacting with each other. Hey, it's hard! There is so much for each one of us to do, to think about, to fix, to put in order, to decide, to watch, to take in, to listen to, to feel at any given moment. Add on top of that the challenge of having to interact with other people (who also have so much to do, to think about, to fix, to put in order, to make decisions about, to watch, to take in, to listen to, to feel at any given moment). How is possible to remember to consider the bigger picture of another individual each time you interact?

    A friend has a quote by Philo of Alexandria in her email signature and on her Facebook profile. It reads: 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.' I have meditated on this quote a lot since she shared it, especially when faced with difficult human interactions. How do we remind ourselves to resist falling into black and white thinking? I'm right, you're wrong. He's right and she's wrong. We're right , therefore they're wrong. You're either with us or against us.

    Is there a way to embrace more of the possibilities that live in the grey between us? Maybe then we could stay focused on what each of us can do to strengthen our community. A healthy community is made up of diverse people with diverse perspectives. We don't always have to agree with each other. Heck, we don't even have to like everybody in our community! However, if each of us tried just a little harder every day to appreciate that we are living in a world nuanced in shades of grey, rather than expending our energies on issues that divide us, every one of us in our community could focus on the common ground on which we stand, elevating it, and therefore, ourselves. Then the possibilities would be endless for all of us. We would be truly inclusive, viewing all of the people in our community as partners '
    people with whom to create something that we do not have the power to create alone.

    As we near Yom Kippur, also known as Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, let's keep this in mind.

    B'shira and l'shanah tovah u-metukah tikateivu '
    May you be inscribed for a good, sweet year,
    Hazzan Sharon Grainer

    *mazal tov = congratulations
    *Hazzan = cantor, leading songs of prayer in synagogue
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010

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