Friday, July 06, 2018

My Father's Keeper?

The purpose of this blog is to create some new narratives at the Shabbat table. Please share.
In memory of Dovid ben Eliezer A"H.
Dennis SeinfeldThis coming Sunday night will be the 13th yahrzeit of my father.

My father did not live to be an old man. He died quite young after falling off a ladder, preparing the house for our family's visit.

I sometimes wonder, had he lived to be an old man, what kind of old man would he have been?

Perhaps he would have been like my late friend Norman Hansen. I knew Norman  in his 80s and into his 90s. He was a riot. One of my favorite line: "The greatest mistake of my life was voting for Roosevelt in 1944. I should have known he was too sick!"

He was a widower and lonely, and before he met me he had very few people to talk to, so he used to make cassette recordings of himself arguing a thesis, then play it back and argue with himself.

When he found out that I am Jewish, he gave me one of his recordings, entitled, "Why there will never be a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict."

Bottom line: Norman's reasoning was that peace is not compatible with "truth".

If you stick to your truth and I stick to mine, how can we ever have peace?

Therefore, while some people pursue peace, most pursue their truth.

The question for your table is, was Norman right? Are truth and peace compatible, or are they mutually exclusive?

It would be interesting if both parties said, we're willing to compromise on our version of truth so that we can have peace. But more often you hear people jettison the entire concept of truth. There is no truth, there are just "competing narratives".

This narratives approach is convenient because it protects you from every being wrong. "I'm not wrong, I just have a different narrative. And therefore my claim is as legitimate as yours."

Fortunately, there are some sane intellectuals out there, such as UK journalist Melanie Phillips, who haven't forsaken the age-old concept of truth.

But what about peace?

Was Norman right, that peace between such people can never come about peacefully?

My father would have appreciated Phillips's argument. He was a truth-seeker. His tombstone says, "Champion of Justice." His his mind, true peace can only come when there is justice.

What say you and the folks at your table?

Shabbat Shalom

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