Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Make Way for the Light-Bearers

There's been a lot that's happened this past year that has confused me about my core beliefs. I've raged, been angry, felt deadened, numb, or like I would die of pain at alternate times. At the same time, I've also been deeply glad, deeply appreciative and deeply moved.

What I have realized is that I believe in the good.

I believe in the good. In the light. In fairy tales. Magic charms. Dancing, singing, beauty, music. Passion. Love. Sparkles and glitter and ennervating spirituality. Disco lights at the roller skating rink. Ice skating sleds. Tiaras. I believe in all these things very deeply. What is more, I believe that people are innately good. I believe that darkness obscures the goodness in people and causes them to act in ways that don't become them, ways that are not part of their true nature.

I know that such a belief is thought of as old-fashioned, out-dated, out-moded or naive. But I believe that I have the right to such a belief. Aviva Miretzky died on the basketball court when she was in 8th grade. Tanielle Miller died of meningitis. Chaya Mitchell died of a brain tumor. My grandfather died just a few days before my 14th birthday. This year, my grandmother died. I watched her chest rise and heave in the hospital as I wished her goodbye and a safe journey, not just from me but from all my family members. I have personally witnessed the cruelty of children toward one another. I have seen the ways in which adults, scared and paralyzed by fear, hide behind cowardly lies and accusations. I have watched their eyes slide away because they could not meet mine, and have seen others stare me down, daring me to do something about it. I have seen administrators in a panic, unsure of how to control a wayward child. One of the people I love best in the world was abused by her husband. As for emotional pain, try to conceive of what it means to be a transsexual in an Orthodox Jewish world, and then you'll have a handle on it. I've seen families where the parents scream at one another in front of the children. I've seen other families where they put on a facade. Every kind of suffering, the backdrop to humanity, has appeared in some form to me, as it does to all of us who walk through this life. And despite all this, I believe in the good. Or perhaps, what I truly believe is that those who inflict pain on others are alienated from their true selves.

This is not them. Their true selves are themselves in pain, wracked by guilt, fear, anger or hatred. They act out of cowardice as opposed to bravery. There is something inside them that begs to be discovered. There is a light, that untouched part of them that belongs to God. I may not always see it but I believe it is there. Sometimes it has been covered over so completely that only death may atone. But it exists. It remains.

I have learned a lot about forgiveness this year. There is a somewhat trite saying that you have to forgive in order to be happy yourself. That if you bear a grudge, it eats away at you rather than those you hate. I don't know if that is true for everyone. But I have discovered that as we are in need of forgiveness, as I am in need of forgiveness, so are others. Because people sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes they allow their goodness to be covered up by darkness for a little while. Or as our Sages put it, people do not sin except when a spirit of foolishness enters them. They regret it afterwards, but it is hard to come clean. It is a matter of losing face. Of being embarrassed. Of feeling lower than others. It is hard to do.

But oh, it's so worth it!

I know that I do not always react to others in a befitting manner. Sometimes I do things that I ought not. I say things I should not. Passion rules reason is Wizard's First Rule and it is very true by me. When I am ruled by emotion, I act in ways that I should not. So I apologize. I try to be better. And as I appreciate that I am forgiven, I learn that I can try to forgive as well. That's not an easy process. And it's not always going to work. But it is imperative to try.

Because I believe in the good. I believe people are good. I believe their wickedness is only ever a crust, a shell, a covering, behind which burns an enduring and all-consuming light. I want to find a way to discover the light, reveal it, allow it to shine through. I feel most frustrated when I fail in that task. But the fact remains that I believe. I believe in people. I believe in their goodness. I believe in hope, and that there is hope for everyone. Sometimes I do not think I am the right person to uncover that person's hidden light, but I believe that there is someone in the world who can do it.

I think it is a choice we make, whether to believe in magic or not. And I believe in magic. Despite our past, our history, and the darkness that veils many of us at one time or another, I still believe.

And I am not ashamed.

It is perceived as delusional, unrealistic, impossible, ridiculous and childish to hold to such a belief. The world does not like it. That is fine with me. Because the fact remains that I see the little flames burning in the hearts of all the people in the world, whereas those who doubt see nothing but charred coal, blackened to a crisp, and fail to notice the diamond's gleam.

14 comments:

Anonymous1:45 said...

It is so interesting and incredible to me what you wrote; especially since I just (before reading this) came across somethong that exactly describes what you just wrote - here is the site - http://www.keirsey.com/handler.aspx?s=keirsey&f=fourtemps&tab=3&c=healer. If this link doesn't work then to get there, go to keirsey.com and go to the top right hnd corner; click or scroll on 'the four temperments' then click/scroll down to 'idealists' and under that category go to 'healers'. It's uncanny the similarity with what you just wrote and described in yourself. Anyways, all the best.

Anonymous said...

Chana,

this is an amazing post.

"Sometimes I do not think I am the right person to uncover that person's hidden light, but I believe that there is someone in the world who can do it."

I love the realism combined with the idealism. And I agree, everyone has a soul and that soul is a piece of God, thus goodness.

Anon 1:45,

Idealists are the NF. Healers are specifically the INFP. Am I remembering this correctly?

~Heshy

Anonymous1:45 said...

Heshy,
I believe this is correct. INFP was the one I was reffering to. Though, to be honest I know just as much or maybe less then you do. I just (out of curiosity) was filling out one of those online personality tests and was led to this site and thus happened to read the INFP ('healer') thing. Which is why I found it so interesting to read this post which describes the same personality type that I read about. Anyways, it is INFP (which stands for Introverted Intuitive Feeling Percieving) but my point of this story is that I'm not one to be asking questions of since I only came across this by chance.

Topeka "Nieto in his Kuzari" said...

שני כתובים המכחישים זה את זה

אלהים ברא את האדם ישר
and
כי יצר לב האדם רע מנעוריו

????

ChayAiz said...

love it
sounds like its something youve been wanting to say/ write about for a long time

ChayAiz said...

oh yes and it clarifies a lot for me (perhaps a healer is a good name as in anon 1:45)

so perhaps some in the world believe what you say:

"the second soul of israel is a veritable part of G-d"

"A person does not sin unless the spirit of folly enters him"

Josh said...

Thank you Chana. This post brightened my day.

Rabba bar bar Chana said...

I know that such a belief is thought of as old-fashioned, out-dated, out-moded or naive.

But even saying that is saying that most people are cynical or pessimistic about human nature. I think most people actually try to see the best in others. It's just hard with the barrage of media promoting cynicism. And these days, no one wants to be seen as naive and somehow, optimism about human nature is seen as naivite. But you can start a new movement, Chana, & I'll join. Maybe we can all just try smiling at one another more, like people in smaller cities do.

Dunking Rachel said...

My daughter, when she was 12 years to mid teens wore cat ears, a tiara or other head gear everywhere she went....in addition there were other costume type clothing.
Family wolud comment "how could you let her do that...." teachers would comment that "there might be a problem" I would get odd looks from strangers...but what I knew about my daughter is what I know about human beings, we have our own spark... within each of us we contain all the human possibilites...why not nuture the good and positive ones...like tending a garden I aspire to water the psoitive seeds to have them grow into to their fullest potential....my daughter's self expression was just that organically her....(as far as the personality type thig...that comes from Jungian psychology the typology of personalities.....I am a INFP...lol)

thanks for your post...I am always impressed by your honesty and clearity of your writting...thanks

Ezzie said...

Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Very moving.

Shades of Grey said...

Wow. This is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Very sad post, true of course, but so sad.

"Control your emotion or it will control you"
Is that the true and correct way?

shualah elisheva said...

i am an infj.

that particular fact notwithstanding - it is so sweet and bright to find a frum blog that is, truly, inspirational.

eloquent.

and starry.eyed.