Spare me the hypocrisy, America

It breaks my heart to write this, but I am angry and disappointed and hope that the shock sparks change.

Like many of you, I woke up this morning with a feed full of #NeverForget posts.

While it may make you feel good to see them and to share them, we have forgotten what it truly means.

What I see in this picture is a real attack on our freedoms.

All the rhetoric about how wearing a mask is an attack on your freedom just doesn’t compare, does it?

What I do not see in this picture are democrats or republicans. I do not see black or white, gay or straight, liberals or conservatives.  I see neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and friends…all part of our American family.

We say #NeverForget as if we will always remember, respect, and honor.

Yet even today, our country, the country I love, is still under attack.  Foreign enemies continue to attack our election processes, they continue to spread disinformation and division through social media, and they continue to try to hack campaigns and sow discord. 

We are under attack from within, by growing numbers of domestic terrorists, whether organized or individuals.  Hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and other types of discrimination are on the rise across the country, leading to an increase in violent attacks.

We are under attack from a disease that has ravaged countries around the globe and caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.  Even if you only believe the lowest of numbers, they are still significantly greater than our losses on 9/11.

Worse yet, we are under attack from each other, allowing partisan politics to divide us and undermine our institutions.  We are not each other’s enemies nor is a free press our enemy. 

So, what have we done to #NeverForget?  Not nearly enough.

We did not care enough to ensure the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation bill was reauthorized and funded until well over a decade after the attacks.

We did not care enough to go out and vote to ensure every voice is heard in our democracy.

We did not care enough to complete our census to make sure every person is counted.

We do not care enough to respect each other and the memories of those we have lost.

Sadly, instead of remaining united in the face of adversity, we have become the most divided this nation has seen since our Civil War.

We mock and denigrate each other because of our beliefs or political party affiliations.

We question each other’s patriotism and oppose everything that doesn’t fit our views, going so far as to tell each other to “leave if you don’t like it”.

We turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice and continue to sow racial division instead of working for equality and equity.

We continue to accept death; from COVID, from school shootings, from police misconduct, and from other forms of violence and disease as ‘acceptable’.

So, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

#NeverForget cannot just be words or photos or memes on a page.  It must be in action and accountability.

Look back at your feed, at your words and actions. Have you truly been living up to those ideals?  Have you been respectful to your fellow citizens?  Have you taken action to unite or divide?  Have you supported those who have attacked or disrespected others? Have you been kind? Have you ‘unfriended’ someone because they believe differently than you?

Let us not forget that we are still a country at war.  Our troops are still serving in harm’s way.

If we cannot remain united and supportive, what exactly are they defending?

So today, as we should every day, we must not just remember, not just share meaningless words, we must honor that memory with our actions and intent.

If we are truly going to #NeverForget, we must live like we did on September 11th and 12th.  United in our commitments to our country and to each other, respectful and supportive of each other and our beliefs, and dedicated in ensuring that those lives we lost were not in vain. 

Never forget that we are stronger because of our diversity. That truth matters. Trust matters. That we must learn from our past to truly understand our present. That each of us has the power to change the future.

So, before your next post, pause to think about what you are saying and what you are sharing.  Or did you forget already?

#NeverForget #Respect #Freedom #USA #911 #Sept11 #History #Vote #Learn #United #Diversity

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.