The Shabbat prayer book in our synagogue includes the following meditation: ”I harbor within—we all do—a vision of my highest self, a dream of what I could and should become. May I pursue this vision, labor to make real my dream.”
On Tuesday, January 20, Donald Trump was sworn in as our forty-fifth president. Leaders as well as friends have asked us to give the new president an opportunity to prove himself. Based on his appointments, his actions, his continued negative rhetoric, the growing scandals, however, I refuse to stand with this man.
As an American and as a Jew, I shudder at the uptick of racist acts, xenophobic proclamations and bans, and the proposed loss of funding and support for public education, the arts, health care, civil rights, the disadvantaged, the environment—the list is endless.
Despite or maybe because of the current political climate, it is more important than ever for me to find “my highest self.” I must do what I can to live my values in a time where our country is led by an individual whose values do not come close to mine. I must use my moral compass to point me in a direction that counters his rhetoric of hate. “Not all of us can do great things,” Mother Theresa said. “But we can do small things with great love.”
Up until this past presidential election, I did not consider myself a “political” person. I was—admittedly—marginally involved in the Vietnam War protests and the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment fight. Although I have voted in almost every local, state, and national election, I have minimally involved in campaigning. The possibility of Trump becoming of president, however, stirred a level of activism in me that had me expressing my concerns on Facebook and becoming actively involved in supporting Hillary Clinton.
Now that Trump is president, I continue to be an activist. I have joined a local grassroots organization to effect change at a local level. Along with contacting my legislators through phone calls, emails, and letters, I have met with my United States House representative in House to express my concerns.
I volunteer at Special Olympics and support financially other organizations that align with those values. I subscribe to the New Yorker and the New York Times to stay more informed with media that does not provide “alternative facts.”
And I continue to subscribe to The Jewish World. For fifty years, the Clevenson family has been the voice of the Capital Region’s Jewish community. Their bi-weekly not only gives local news and events but also fair and unbiased information about the United States, Israel, and the world. If you have not already done so, subscribe to their fine paper, and consider giving a gift subscription to a friend or family member.
Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew expression translated often as “repairing the world,” is the Jewish moral principal that states every individual should leave this world better than he or she found it. This is the vision of my highest self. Through my voice and through my actions, I hope “to do small things with great love”—to make our country and this world a better place for our own and future generations.