A few moments in a Delaware supermarket check-out line

My wife and I just spent a week with friends in Millsboro, Delaware, a lovely small town 15 minutes by car from the Rehovot shore.

One morning our host went to the store to buy bagels and the daily Washington Post. While standing in the check-out line he struck up a friendly conversation with a middle aged woman standing behind him. After a few moments she said, “You are a very nice man!”

Everything changed, however, when, reading the paper’s headlines, he said, “We’re in a real mess – aren’t we?”

She asked, “What do you mean?”

Pointing to the paper, he said: “Trump’s erratic handling of the economy, his racism, white supremacy, and misogyny are changing the country for the worse.”

“You are a very bad man,” she barked.

Stunned, he said, “But you just told me I am nice.”

“You aren’t.”

My friend’s interchange with his neighbor is a reflection of the sorry state of civility and ethics in our nation. One moment he was a “nice man” shooting the breeze with a stranger in a supermarket check-out line, and the next he was the despised and demonized “other.”

One pillar of evil is when we become an extension of ideas and not individual human beings embodying the complexity of thoughts, feelings, backgrounds, interests, and values that we all share.

The president’s base relishes its hatred of the other at his political rallies as Trump stokes their hatred of his opponents and gives succor to the crowd’s lower angels. But we Democrats demonize Trump supporters as the despised “other” as well.

We all need to check ourselves and keep from falling into this dehumanizing trap not only for our own sake but for the sake of the soul of our nation.

About the Author
Rabbi John L. Rosove is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and immediate past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the newly created Union for Reform Judaism's Israel and Reform Zionism Committee (IRZC). John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (Nashville: Jewish Lights Publishing, a division of Turner Publishing Company, 2017) available at Amazon.com. His new book "Why Israel [and its Future] Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" will be published in November, 2019 (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press) and will be available at Amazon.com. John has written a series of 8 Jewish Life Cycle Guides that are posted on the Temple Israel of Hollywood web-site (http://www.tioh.org). The Guide “Preparing for Jewish Burial and Mourning” also appears on the web-site of Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles. (http://hillsidememorial.org/jewish-lifecycle-guide/). John writes a regular blog that appears at the Times of Israel at ​https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/john-l-rosove/. His Facebook site is www.facebook.com/RabbiJohnLRosove John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (age 33) and David (age 28). Daniel is married to Marina Javor. John and Barbara have one granddaughter.
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