Friday, September 20, 2013

Untouchable

Just in case you don't know me personally, I should mention that I am a bad person.  I can hold a grudge for a long, long time.  I am happy to an unseemly degree when persons I do not like have bad events in their lives.  I am envious of people who ignore halacha but seem well-blessed anyway.  Since I started working 32 hours a week, my house is not very clean - even though I am wasting money on a cleaning service twice a month. My herbs are sadly neglected.  I cheat a lot on my gluten free diet, leaving me itchy and bloated and cranky often.  I seem to have inherited some of my grandmother's anxiety - I ruin my own day worrying about things.  And I react badly around tea-partiers spewing bull malarky in social situations.  I am often not very forgiving - sometimes I am downright judgmental, though the person in question may not know it.  I spend too much time being angry at the past and hardly any time having hope for the future.  I wonder just how sane I am sometimes, and the answer does not look good from my own POV.  I am sure my forebears are disappointed in me.  I am disappointed in myself.  And the myth of progress left us behind a long time ago.  Right now I am not sure if we can even tread water.  My faith is pretty frazzled.  Also, I am sure you have noticed my bad attitude.  It shows a bit on this blog, lol.

So for the first time in a while I am post-Yom Kippur without feeling particularly renewed or forgiven.  Usually I do.  This year, not so much. I guess I am feeling a bit of an existential crisis.  Just what is the point of all this?  Why pray unanswered prayers?  Is anything even changeable?

Everything seems to be out of reach.  Not "just" out of reach but *far* out of reach.  In fact, untouchable.

This is not what I'm supposed to be feeling during the High Holidays, supposedly.  So clearly I'm doing it wrong.  One more demerit.

*****

Intermission:  my dh had made reservations for us this evening to hear a band that he likes at a small local venue.  I normally prefer acoustic live music but this is a Celtic folk music rock band wanna-be.  The sound was so loud in that small place that I did not enjoy the first set at all.  The sheer volume made the lyrics unintelligible and the reverberations of the electronics drowned out the folk instrument elements.  At the beginning of the second set, however, I discovered quite by accident that if I rested my chin on my hands and as non-chalantly as possible covered my ears with my fingers that the sound was much better.  It mitigated almost all of the reverberation and just enough of the volume to actually allow me to hear individual instruments - even some of the lyrics.  So ironically, I could hear better with my ears plugged.  I am sure there is some sort of profound philosophical notion in there somewhere.

*****

But plugging my ears won't make what is already in my head go away.  What prompted these musings was a story I saw on Ynet Wednesday afternoon while I was still at work.  An angry estranged husband broke into his wife's home and forceably took his 2 children.  He drove them to the a tall building with an outside elevator up to the 11th floor.  He then proceeded to throw his kicking and screaming children off the roof, one at a time.  They landed with a splat on the ground below, dying instantly, Baruch Hashem, and then he jumped after them and also died.

Now, here in the states it is not exactly unheard of for a noncustodial parent to kill their kids.  But for some reason this story disturbed me profoundly right before Sukkot.  Here we tend to think of Israel as a better place, overall, to live - except for the whole wacko medieval rabbinate denying people freedom to marry and freedom of religious practice thing, of course.

But I wondered - did the mother pray?  Even if she did not, why did a supposedly fair, just and benevolent deity allow this to happen?  Several people reported hearing the children struggle - why did they not do something?  The mother had called the police, and this man was not unknown to them actually.  Granted we only know one side of the story.  But I cannot understand how murdering his own kids seemed like a good idea.

Did he pray?  If so, what did he pray?  Just where was God in all this?

I wondered if there was any situation where I would consider killing my kids.  A painful mortal illness?  Imminent starvation or death by thirst?  During the holocaust, did some people kill their kids to spare them?  To save them?

Was it fear that drove this man, or narcissistic hatred?

Does it make a difference?

Can tikkun olam do any thing to stop this kind of thing?  Or has society become too big, the economy too complex, the world stage controlled by those who simply do not care?

Can you imagine Mitch McConnell commenting on a story like this?

It is the fault of liberals, he would say.  And maybe it is.  How silly of us to give people the idea that there should be some fairness and equity in life.  Social Darwinism is the real order of the day - justice is for the rich (if you can call it that).  The rest of us are to blame for our own problems, right?.

Solutions are only beyond reach if you are lazy, they say.  They are only untouchable if you made them that way, they say.

But I do not believe that.

It is fairly ridiculous to imply those kids were at fault.  And like them, a lot of us were cast, in childhood, kicking and screaming or passively bewildered into situations not of our choosing, for which we had no recourse and no safety net.  No coping skills adequate to the task when confronted with problems far bigger and stronger than we were.  How many of us walked away unscathed?

I should cut myself some slack, stop worrying, stop being afraid, and just accept what happens.  The whole zen thing. Pray and have hope.

But I am still afraid of splatting on the ground  - untouchable.