Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Real History" - What is it ?

As individuals we face the "reality" of viewing the world in our own way. That way is shaped by whatever is critical within ourselves that pushes and pulls us.

Where we've been traumatized such as by violence when young, we may turn inward or outward to confront our demons. The abused child may turn into an abuser who pushes his/her pain onto others. Another person with a similar background may instead tear herself/himself apart through self-mutilation or substance abuse. In some cases another reaction to such an experience may be to seemingly transcend the hurt through hard work and be "balanced" and "sane".

In looking outward we may look at those in other countries in varying ways. Some of the criticisms of Obama and the Democrats are that they/we have a naive view of others - the terrorists and the like who need to be Confronted. In this type of a world (from my perspective) we are "good people" who are under threat from "bad people".

In my world view I try to see myself and those around us as "good", but "not great". I also try to see and understand those who are "different". I often feel like my fears of them are not necessarily rational or right, but rather are shaped by history and by often difficult realities.

Israel certainly faces hostility both to itself and to its Jewish citizens. Certainly this hostility is based in part on facts of its history and current realities.

As most Jews I was taught a history of "our people" which lead to an unquestioning support of Israel. As I've grown older I've read more and more which makes me question a lot of the basic presumptions I grew up with.

In talking with other Jews whose experiences aren't similar to mine, I need to recognize our differences and find common ground before I can expect to be heard at all. In talking with non-Jews I need to recognize how Israel and "Jewish concerns" may be very different to them, often much less important. Listening and being patient (which is hard) is important!

Besides dealing with these issues we also face "dominant paradigms" such as how the media and politicians have common "understandings" of the Middle East which continue to perpetrate perspectives which portray Palestinians and Arabs in general as "bad people" and certainly as not our equals.

The Middle East is but one example of where we have a lot of work to do before we can expect change to emanate seriously - from the U.S. Perhaps the recent "War" may help in the propaganda campaign, perhaps it will make things worse. Time will tell!


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