Friday, 22 June 2018

A Letter

Dearest Molly,

I have been wanting to write something to you almost since the moment of your appearance in this world but and its shackled looniness has simply gotten in my way. I hope that by the time you are old enough to understand this missive, much of my bitching and moaning about the stuff contained herein will have mercifully vanished out of our public consciousness and will no longer be problems for you and your contemporaries. I hope that one day, you and I will be able to sit together and read this drivel and laugh raucously over what was, what is, and what we hope will be.

A few ground rules for reading this piece. Yes...your grandmother uses foul language and does so liberally throughout this piece. She has since long before your father was even a kernel of a spark in her eye. Many people will tell you that cursing is a sign of an unimaginative mind and a lazy speaker. I sharply disagree. I am a believer that sometimes, only certain words can adequately express emotion. Don't let anybody ever distract you from the true meaning of a curse. While I am not of a mind that we should be dropping f-bombs at will in any and all settings, sometimes the reclaiming of language empowers us and gives colour and texture to our extreme feelings. Words always matter and I will not be censored because somebody else might be offended by my language. And anyway, I'm fairly certain that while I have been saddled with more than a few pejoratives by others in attempting to describe my nature, unimaginative and lazy of speech were never amongst them.

I also hope that while reading this you will understand the pain, anger, and anguish I am feeling at this particular moment. I hope and pray that you never, ever see this side of me but when there is pure evil in the world, I tend to get bilious and pissed off. 

You, my darling granddaughter, are my greatest hope for the future. In your beautiful hazel eyes, I see nothing but optimism and potential. Your gaze transfixes me and displays such trust and love. We can talk in cliches for hours about how it is all ahead of you and how you can be anything you want to be, and my God I hope all of that is true, but I think that being born at this crisis point in history means you will have to shoulder so much more and for that I am profoundly sorry.

Yours will be the first generation with both feet firmly planted in the information age. While your parents and grandparents are still desperately flailing and failing badly at navigating through the sludge and the shit, I have some measure of confidence that you and your friends will someday have it all figured out. It still galls me that the internet, which holds the keys to so much advancement and connection, is also the place where racism, misogyny, hate, ignorance, and intolerance festers. The weaponization of information to further the evil and self-serving agendas of demagogues, false prophets, greedy oligarchs, and tyrants is one of the greatest miseries ever unleashed on the citizens of this planet. Where once in bygone times, dictators and despots used armies of iron and machinery, today's martinets use bits, bytes, and pixels. Dear one. Never let yourself be manipulated by mindless propaganda. Always demand to see the truth and never accept the word of any leader from any side of the ideological spectrum who purposefully hides his or her plans from the disinfectant of sunlight. Always, always, always ask the tough questions and never, never, never accept the easy answers even if they suit your personal philosophies.

It is very easy for people to get caught up in their own lives and to forget that there are others in the world just trying to find a better place for themselves. Generational poverty and living in constant danger make desperate people even more desperate. You, my love, have been born into tremendous privilege. You live in a country that, while far from perfect, provides you with unparalleled advantages. But just because you were bequeathed a life that offers so many avenues, doesn't mean that others less fortunate than you shouldn't be able to aspire to what you have. Human suffering is an issue that has bedevilled humankind for millennia but we can be and should always be mindful of those assholes who look down on other human beings simply because of where they come from, the colour of their skin, who they happen to love, or the gods to whom they pray. Worse still, we need to muzzle and ostracize those colossal bastards who gleefully use their perches of power and authority to further their evil agendas of hate and division.

Beware of the narcissist and those seeking self-aggrandizement. Align yourself with those who use their skills and their fortunes to help others rise out of the depths. The best people in this world are often those who work in complete anonymity.

You have been born into a community with a rich and tremendous history. Being a Jew is something of which I have always been extraordinarily proud but I have never used it to justify my bad behaviour. We Jews have certainly had our share of misery and suffering but we should never use our perch of privilege to further advance the suffering of others. We are a people that have been bequeathed a strong social justice streak that has its roots in Tanach. (Sometimes called the Old Testament.) Always beware of people who quote Scripture in order to further their intentions of evil. When that happens, try a few of these verses on them.
“Thus says God: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9
“Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the orphan, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17
People who think that they are holier than you, generally aren't. I have no idea what you will someday think of religion, God, or even of being born Jewish, but I hope you know that people who spout their Judaism as a reason for their bigotry and hatred probably missed more than a few religious school classes. Every Shabbat morning, I read the following passage based on Mishnah Peah 1:1:
These are the Things that are limitless,of which a person enjoys the fruit of the world,while the principal remains in the world to come.They are: honouring one's father and mother,engaging in deeds of compassion,arriving early for study, morning and evening,dealing graciously with guests, visiting the sick,providing for the wedding couple,accompanying the dead for burial,being devoted in prayer, and making peace among among people,But the study of Torah encompasses them all.
It seems simple, and the Torah part may seem archaic to a modern girl like you, but sometimes our humanity is found in our ability to reduce caring and kindness to the lowest common denominator. Sometimes, showing up for others is all that matters. Never forget that we Jews were once the "other". 

You have been born into a time when women have options. I have no doubt that you will be raised to show your strength and to follow your passions but there are still a few out there who think that you are lesser simply because of your XX chromosomes. There are still some people who believe that you shouldn't have agency over your own body or that you owe them sex. Feminist is not an angry nor a foul word. It simply means that we women want to be treated as equals in all realms of society. Own the word and live by its ideals.

There is so much misery happening right now that I can't believe it is real. Knowing that there are children out there, some who are as young as you are, who have been separated from their parents for reasons of politics...well it has kept me up nights. I hear their screams in my semi-consciousness and I loathe the people who have put them there. I shriek FUCK YOU in shaking rage at the newspaper and at the TV on a regular basis. I ugly cry when I think of those parents who are desperate to find their children but may never be able to because of serious malpractice and indifference. I send prayers of thanks that my granddaughter knows the hugs and comfort of her parents when she cries from discomfort or is frightened. There is an entire cohort of children who will be forever scarred by this evil and dastardly sack of shit. Given the lessons of history that I thought we had learned, I never thought or believed that I would see a modern, western society do this to needy people in my lifetime, but here we are.

I resolve for your sake to never give up fighting the righteous fight. I resolve for your sake to call out the bastards' bullshit every single time I hear it or see it. I resolve for your sake to never shrink from calling out the enablers and the sycophants, even if they are friends and family. I resolve for your sake to be engaged in the fight and not on the sidelines when evil is invoked. I resolve for your sake to be on the right side of history.

You, Molly, deserve nothing less.



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