The New King George

July 4th is my favorite holiday.

Not for the fireworks and the BBQs, but for the history and the meaning.

A band of patriots had enough with Great Britain and set forth to chart a new course for a new country.  Beyond the “facts … submitted to a candid world”, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”, they laid out an ideal and a plan for something the world had never seen before.

The Declaration of Independence set the foundation for our Nation and the freedoms and rights that are defined within and inherent to it and our Constitution.

Unfortunately, after nearly 250 years, we still struggle with the concepts.

While to many of us, the truths Jefferson referenced have always been self-evident, to far too many they are not.

Too many Americans still do not know what freedom is, and too many do not understand that they are still not free.

The United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. For some, their only crime is poverty.

There are laws being written and implemented today that restrict rights to health, to happiness, to vote, and to gather.

Our ‘leaders’ are no longer representative of the People, but career politicians funded by special interests and big business.  The Founders warned of a divisive two-party system, but we paid no heed.

Regardless, there are still citizens today without full representation in Congress.

For all who continue to fight against change, against respect, against people and circumstances you do not understand or agree with, you are not only on the wrong side of history, you are the antithesis of what the Declaration was about.  You are the new King George.

For the rest of us, the true patriots, we can solemnly celebrate today, even though we must continue to work to form a more perfect Union. We understand that change is not only inevitable, it is necessary, and that none of us are truly free if any of us cannot or do not experience freedom.

There is still a long path ahead of us, and we are at a crossroads.  We can either watch 245 years of this Grand Experiment end in failure, or we can “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” to support and defend the very ideas and ideals we celebrate today.

Let us choose to honor the strength and their sacrifice of those visionaries, along with all those who have fought valiantly in the name of Freedom.

The world is watching; our very future depends on it.

The Horns The Devil Gave Me

“Where are your horns? Don’t all Jews have them?”

47 years later, this question still haunts me. 

I was 5 years old.  My family had just moved from New York to Virginia.  That’s when I met Keith.  For those first few days after the move, Keith and I were inseparable – exploring my new neighborhood, riding Big Wheels, and playing games.

One day Keith heard that we were Jewish and asked to see my horns.  The horns on my head.  The ones the Devil put there.  All Jews have them.

My mother tried to correct him, with no success.  She even went to talk with his mother.  That made it worse.  Keith was not allowed to play with Jews.  It is a tough lesson to learn at 5, or at any age.  I did not understand what happened.  I just knew I did not have my friend to play with.

This was one incident in my distant past.   There was no violence.  No real hatred; just profound ignorance and hurt.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to have that thrust upon someone every single day of their lives.  Mistrusted, hated, abused, persecuted, for their religion or their skin color, or anything.

All these years later, while it has not been directed at me personally, the hatred and ignorance still exist.  Even worse, hate crimes and anti-Semitism are on the rise.  I am not a practicing Jew.  I do not go to temple.  I married outside my faith (or my grandparent’s faith.  We never really lived it). It does not impact me directly, but I feel it personally.

For my friends of color and everyone in black and brown communities who feel this ignorance and hatred and persecution and fear every single day, my experience pales in comparison.  I will never comprehend the reality you are living but I can listen, learn, empathize, and stand alongside you.

No one should live in fear because of the color of their skin or the religion they practice.  No one should die for those reasons, either.

I share my story not for empathy or to make any type of equivalence, but to join in solidarity with those who have been marginalized, mistreated, and maligned for too long.  While I cannot change the past for any of us, I can work with you to change our future.