Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you have a sweet and happy.
But not a peaceful one.
Why? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not keen on peace anymore. It’s been rare during the course of human history, and it seems to be even more uncommon in this day and age. Even when it does occur, it doesn’t last very long. Conflict is always on the horizon.
The fact is, peace shouldn’t be the objective of all our wishes and goals this holiday season. It won’t do much good to hope for it at the dinner table while we’re slicing apples and dipping them in honey. It’s not going to happen just because we ask for it.
Something close to it will happen, however, if we take action to stir the ingredients that can, if mixed properly, approach some semblance of peace. That includes methods of combating racism, intolerance and hatred in our own countries and around the world. That includes not just posting on Facebook about something you don’t like, but also giving time and/or money to organizations that will actually do something about it. That includes not just marching for a cause you believe is just, but also contributing to the cause by volunteering or writing checks.
Peace is not possible, folks. Not total, unequivocal peace. Yet movement to mitigate many of the problems the world is facing is possible, and we should be doing more than wishing for that this Rosh Hashanah. We should be supporting the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center in their efforts to contest anti-Semitism and bigotry. We should be supporting organizations such as the American Jewish World Service for their humanitarian work around the globe, as well as their anti-homophobia initiatives. We should be supporting organizations such as Seeds of Peace that bring together Israelis, Palestinians and other groups in an effort to incite discussion and understanding among disparate peoples.
In other words, we shouldn’t be just talking about issues. We should be doing things to resolve them. Because we have the power to do that. And in that regard, we have the power to help make this New Year a sweeter and better one.
I’m not going to see peace in my lifetime. Not in the Middle East, not in the United States, where I reside. I suspect I’ll see more conflict, unfortunately. Yet if we all take up our pens and fill out some zeroes in our checkbooks, we could help, at least, assuage some of the difficulties people in conflict zones are facing. We need to do this. It’s tzedakah. It’s a mitzvah. It’s completely necessary.
And it’s a helluva lot better than marching in the street or posting on Facebook.
So this Rosh Hashanah, please consider this seriously when you’re at the table with friends and family. Maybe peace is not the answer after all. Maybe something more tangible and accessible is. We certainly can help bring about the latter. As long as we stop wishing for something that will never happen and start acting along lines that are more productive.
These endeavors will bear fruit, I guarantee it. Like the apples we eat during this New Year’s celebration, they will ripen.
We only have to provide the roots to let them grow.