I just realized something extremely important. It actually came about because of what I was thinking/ wrote in the post below this one.
It's what I wrote in my "Off the Derech" post, but larger.
I figured out why we're so fragmented.
Why are there so many of us with so many different views: Philosophically Modern Orthodox, Culturally Modern Orthodox, Chareidi, Right-Wing Yeshivish, Left-Wing Yeshivish and so on and so forth?
And why do all these groups clash with one another? Why don't we at the very least exist separately but happily?
Well, here's why:
Because we love each other.
If I love you, I don't want anything bad to happen to you. If I love you, then I want to teach you the right way, the way that I believe to be right and to hold the secret to the ultimate truth, I want to make sure that you benefit from my knowledge, that you have everything that I have, that you're going to merit Olam Ha'ba, the next world. I want you to have everything good.
And that's because I love you.
Which means that if we each think that the way we have of practicing Judaism or halakha is the right way, that we're the ones with the most honest and genuine approach to Judaism, that is what we want to share with the world, that is what we want to give over to others, that and nothing else. That is why people are so passionate about their beliefs and ideas. That is why we fight, why we can't agree, why we are fragmented and not unified.
Because each one of us is fighting to assert the validity and authority of our own personal truth, because since it works for us we assume, perhaps we even know, that it must and could work for others and bring them the happiness and rightness that we possess.
This means that the fighting and controversy between each of these groups isn't a manifestation of sinas chinam; it is, if nothing else, wrongly channeled love.
Everything that has been done to me, all the people who have tried to force ideas down my throat, who choked me and tried to stifle my individuality, who tried basically to beat me into submission and to make me into a cookie-cutter kid, all of this, all these horrible actions, all this was done to me because they meant it for the good which is at once incredibly horrifying and frustrating for me but which is simultaneously demonstrative of the great love they feel- they want me to be okay, as it were. They want me to benefit from everything they see themselves as benefiting from; they want me to have the Olam Haba that they have.
And they don't understand- they can't, they won't- that my approach is as legitimate as theirs.
But then again, do I want to admit that the Chareidi approach is legitimate? Definitely not. I can't feel at home with an approach that hides information from others, that only feels secure when it bans books or Rabbis and doesn't allow for the intake and flow of ideas. I can't feel at home with an approach that would have destroyed me for the sake of saving me, as it were. I can't, I won't, I never will; it all sickens me.
But this is what I realized:
In the same way that I see this girl's Orthodoxy (in the post below this one) as halakhically skewed, that's how they see me- as having a halakhically skewed understanding. And that's why they think I'm in the wrong. And maybe they even think that I'm still a good person worth saving, and that's why they do this to me, that's why they hurt me and cause me so much pain, because they think it helps me, they think it's good.
Nobody is ever evil because they want to be evil: the worst evils are perpetrated in the name of God, country or love.
And this is an evil perpetrated because of the great love our people has for one another. We are so fragmented, so divided, we have factions and sects that hate one another or completely dismiss one another- and why? Because we want others to benefit from what we have, what we view as right, what is the right and the good, and it frustrates us when people don't want what we have; the techniques used to force submission may also frustrate us.
But this is what I know.
They love me and they do what they do because they love me.
It's so sick, but they could have completely crushed me, they could have made me so disgusted with my own religion that I wouldn't want to be religious, and why? Out of this wrongly-channeled love. All the questions and critiques and horrible mussar speeches- all this meant for my betterment, all this meant for my own good, all of this intended out of love, not hatred.
I understand, I understand now. Oh my God, I understand!
How to fix this? This needs to be channeled appropriately. This love and concern that we all bear for one another needs to come across appropriately. The way to start is to fight over ideas, not over or with people. That was the way that Hillel and Shammai did it- they fought for God and for love of God, but both approaches were legitimate. But see, not every approach is legitimate nowadays- not from a halakhic standpoint, at least- so what to do?
The first thing is to separate the people from the philosophy.
I believe that people are innately good. That's crucial, of course. But I believe in people.
Which means that people generally want to do what is right or what is good or what is best.
Which means that generally, especially in the spectrum of Judaism, people can be good regardless of what spectrum of religion they are in. And the things that I find frustrating about people are generally those that have to do with philosophy- usually philosophies that were taught them- where I find them to be brainwashed and perpetrating brainwashing. Yes, that frustrates me.
So the people are good, it's the philosophies that are bad.
But can I say that? Can I say philosophies are bad? No, I can't! Because I too am biased and will always be biased- I hate the implementation of Ultra-Orthodoxy that I witnessed and felt and there is no way that I can logically weigh the pros and cons of a system that so totally disgusts me and hurt me. So I am biased. But I do believe that the people who advance the Chareidi system of philosophy mean well and do this for the good of others and again, out of love.
There's a quote in one of Neil Gaiman's books that goes something like, "The most dangerous people are those who believe that what they are doing is right."
And that appears to be the case in our fragmented, tortured Jewish community; each faction thinks that they are right and the others are wrong, and they want to spread their "right" notions so they try to bring others over into their camp. But obviously this is bad because it leads to your forcing ideas on people who don't want to hear them and hurting them because of it.
Which means that maybe, impossibly, we have to let it be.
That I might see you and think that I would like you to be a certain way, but I can't make you do something against your will. I can provide you with information if you ask for it, and be there to show you what is important to me, I can share myself and what I think with you, but I cannot force you to accept it and it should not be the goal to make you accept it. Even though it is so important to me, even though I really may believe that you'd be better off, per se, following the route or path that is best for me, I cannot, cannot force you to do it. And I shouldn't put pressure on you to do it; I should only be available, I should be there, present, there if you want me, if you want to hear what I have to say, but not there to force you.
Which is extremely difficult for those of us who really believe that we know something or see something in a truthful way. Because it means we have to hold back, that we can't make others be like us, that we can't force people.
But it's so much better for us all in the long run. And perhaps then we needn't be so fragmented. I may believe your philosophy is wrong but I can still love you, you the person, as long as you don't do anything too terrible, as long as you don't go around killing innocent children, for instance. Because you're a good person and I believe you have value even if I don't agree with you or believe in your philosophy. And maybe your philosophy of life really bothers me and I find it to be really flawed, but I just can't make you be like me and that shouldn't be my goal.
It means holding back and not offering what you see to be the truth, not "saving" people. It means letting go of people, of not doing what you'd like to do to help, for instance. Because that help will not be appreciated; it will be hated.
The only thing you can do is be there. There, if you want me, if you want to know what I think or what I have to say.
So that is what we should do- all of us- all of our fragmented factions- we should be there.
And that is the proper way to channel the love that drives us- being attentive. Listening. Being there. Not forcing it, not even for the person's "own good." People have to come to that realization by themselves. You can't make them. I know, because I've tried and failed and I realize that I can't and it is wrong to attempt it.
So this is what I want to do- to be there. If you want me. If you want to hear what I have to say. But not to force you, not to smother or choke you on the love I'm trying to give over. Only to be there.
A presence, but not a threatening one.
And that is what we all need to learn to be- I can't force you to think what I think, believe as I do or be who I am. I may want to because I may believe it to be right, but it is a wrong action and ultimately causes so much pain. So, so, so much needless pain.
This is my new goal: To be there.
And if all of us could do that, if each of our factions could exist in a semi-peaceful state, by which I mean that we all battle for the truth and for God's sake, like Hillel and Shammai did, but we don't force ideas down people's throats- if we could all just be there, that would be the proper way to channel the love we feel. That would produce results.
And we could make this world a better place.