Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Measure of a Man by Aliza Davidovit

Who are you? Do you know? Are you the fancy car you drive? Are you the wealth you amassed? Are you the title on your business card? Are you the designer clothes you wear? The answers may seem simple, but they are not. If one by one all your status symbols are taken away, when do you stop being you? “I can’t live without my Blackberry,” “I can’t live without my laptop,” “I can’t live without my I-Pod,” “I can’t live without my plasma TV,” are all sentences we’ve heard from those we know. Or, get into a conversation with a stranger and within five seconds they ask you what you do for a living. We have all become so impressed by external trappings that we come to mistake those things for who we really are. By our affiliations, titles and possessions, we convince ourselves of our own greatness.

But buried under all these materialistic decorations, titles and idol worship, do we really know who we are without them? Perhaps not! Statistics show that when the economic collapse hit in 2008 therapists couches, as well as the National Suicide Hotline, were busier than ever. The housing crisis hit, the Nasdaq plummeted; Maddoff scammed people out of billions, and landmark financial institutions disappeared or crashed. And so, at the end of 2008, without their jobs and materialistic securities which had come to define them for so long, many found themselves facing an identity crisis. The time had come to ask the hard question, “Who am I?”

In this week’s Biblical reading, God tells the Patriarch Abraham “Lech Lecha” which translates as “Go to yourself.” The Almighty then gives him directions on how to get there: “Go FROM your country, your birthplace and your father’s home.” God’s roadmap to “self” seems odd. Aren’t the familiar backdrops such as country, birthplace, and home the very things that make up a person’s sense of self? Many of us in our own lives return to the place we grew up in order to get in touch with who we used to be. But God is telling Abraham the complete opposite here. If you want to “go to yourself” and to know who you really are, then you need to unbury yourself from all the fake things you’ve allowed to define you. Make no mistake, Abraham’s journey was not one to find God--he was already aware of God’s omnipresence. Abraham had to go find HIMSELF through the trials and tribulations of his journey on foreign terrain. He had to discover whether the pressures he encountered along the way would crush or corrupt him, or fortify him and show the measure of his moral mettle.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Yes, the economic crisis may have taken away much of what we have, but don’t ever think for one instance that it took away who you are. In the final analysis, we are not what we “collect” in this lifetime but rather what we give away. Our good deeds, our kindness, our charity, our compassion, our integrity, are still the greatest currency we have, and they are “market proof.”

A few days ago I asked my 2000 friends on Facebook if there is anything beneficial about what is currently going on in this country. My personal answer is, “In a way, yes!” For the first time in a very long time we are forced “to go to ourselves’ and rediscover what we stand for, who we are, and what we care about. In the age of plenty we were so busy giving Generation Next what we didn’t have growing up that we forgot to give them what we DID have: decency, appreciation, respect, a work ethic, patriotism and all the things that make a people and nation great, not on the surface but at the core.

Don’t forget, the greatest people in history left us not golden treasures but pearls of wisdom and a legacy of love. Moses, Mother Theresa, Jesus, and Gandhi bequeathed humanity much more than bank accounts. The patriarch Abraham ended up being a very rich man, yet the trust fund for his descendants has long expired but not his moral compass or the light and compassion he introduced to the world. As Abraham went on his journey “unto himself,” he realized it wasn’t about him at all but rather about all the others we encounter along the way. In giving instead of taking, you discover the true meaning of what is valuable and come to evaluate your own worth in much more meaningful terms.

My dear friends, I am not knocking ambition in life, but one’s title and net worth are not the true measure of a man. You have so much more to offer. If times are rough, do not be embarrassed or feel diminished. DO not be ashamed of your status in life, but rather, as Horace Mann once said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
This week's blog is dedicated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader of the fight against breast cancer.

Sponsored by Wordsmithy Editing Services

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Did God Have a Home Depot Card? by Aliza Davidovit

by Aliza Davidovit
How fascinating it would be to look through God’s tool belt to see what he used to create the world: a hammer? a screwdriver? a measuring tape? But it turns out that God didn’t have a Home Depot card or a power drill, but rather created this world with the most powerful tool of all, WORDS. “And God SAID ‘let there be light,’ and there was light (Genesis 1:3).” And each consecutive creation He called into existence through words.

The snake too used words—and convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and basically smooth-talked mankind right out of Eden.

So from the very beginning, we see that words have the power to create and to destroy. We therefore have a tremendous responsibility right on the tips of our tongues.

In Judaism, talking bad about people, is regarded as a very serious sin which can ruin lives. It’s rationalized that if you steal someone’s watch (or goat) you can always pay him back but such is not possible for stealing one’s reputation. A Talmudic tale tells it best.

There was a man who regretted gossiping his whole life and went to his rabbi to see how to correct his sin. The rabbi advised him to take a bag of feathers to the top of a mountain and to throw them to the wind. The man did as he was told and then returned to the rabbi with a big smile. Upon greeting the man, the rabbi advised him that in order to fix all the damage he had done with his tongue he now had to go back and recollect all the feathers. “That’s impossible,” the man cried. “The feathers have blown in all directions and can never be collected.” The rabbi turned to him and said, “So, too, with your words.”

Thus half of our duty is to guard our tongues. But,the other half is to do the complete opposite. Talk as much as you can to get the truth out. We live in a world today where the snake has raised its poisonous head once more and is again spewing lies. And we, the children of Adam and Eve, cannot let the lies stick and must fight back word for word.

Thus, when we see wrong doings in our government or confront the likes of Ahmadinejad or rogue leaders and terrorists, know that our silence acts as the cement for their evil house of lies. If only the Israelis better resisted the WORD “occupied territories” maybe the reality on the ground would be different today. But their Palestinian opponents fought harder and won the word war.

We have only to look back to Hitler to see how powerful words really are. Hitler did not begin his war against the Jews by sending them to gas chambers. He began it with hateful talk, and then those words grew legs and the storm troopers went marching on.

We must bite back at every sound bite. The next time someone seduces us with slogans such as “change we need,” we better seek the definition of “change” so that we are the ones who choose the vocabulary which shapes our lives.

With blogs, diggs, twitter, texts, Facebook, and IM’s, we are evermore empowered, thus evermore duty bound to get the truth out there, not by gossiping, besmirching, and slandering, but by informing, educating, and illuminating--and passing the right words along.