The man did a lot of good and the man did a lot of evil. How can we forget all the good? How can we forget all the evil?
Donald Trump is doing a lot of evil but he’s also doing a lot of good. How can we forget all the good? How can we forget all the evil?
(I know the difference: Bill got convicted already and Donald not yet.)
Must we trash the hurtful heroes? Could we celebrate them ever again?
This dilemma, I feel, stems from American-Christian culture that must divide people into Good and Evil. It’s an echo of the fundamentalist idea that there are two world Powers: G-d and Satan – a philosophy that Judaism rejects completely. The rabbis teach that the Devil is an Angel of G-d, doing His bidding only – for reasons the rabbis explain too – and there is only One Power in the world: G-d. They also clarify that the real struggle is not in Heaven (as the Greeks thought) – there is Peace there – and not between Peoples or people, but rather: within ourselves.
Every day, we should confront our lazy side, fight our tendency to just go with the flow, dismiss our pull to seek comfort and numbness, and rise above what we were predicted to be all about – popularly called: use our Free Will.
In a way, there are no two types of people – besides people who divide people into two kinds and people who don’t. This is not to whitewash the wicked – read on.
In a way, we are all challenged, all called-upon to clean up our act. That is what people must mean when they say that we are all sinners. I prefer how the rabbis call it: all of us have a task in life, to perfect ourselves and the world.
Now, let it be clear: there are some deeds that are so beyond the pale that we cannot categorize their perpetrators with the rest of mankind anymore. They have lost their human face. Some others are and stay so dangerous that they should never be let free again.
But let it also be clear that there are not so many of them. Further, most big people have big temptations, the Talmud already cautions, so stop believing in the supermen of the big screen. (Did Hollywood promote these larger-than-life heroes to help the molesters in Hollywood stay unthinkable and invisible?)
By demanding perfect heroes, American culture creates unforgivable villains. If it would accept that we’re all flawed, alternatives open up.
(Also: its obsession with “successful” people is completely over the top. Make some place for admiring “less tremendous” people, like you and me, who didn’t amass wealth on the backs of others!)
First of all, people would not pretend and lie so much to seem perfect.
Secondly, once people have done their time, have paid for their transgressions – capital punishment is yet another primitiveness that is unfit for an elevated mind – have expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness, they should be reintegrated into the community, society.
Thirdly, for most transgressions, we do not need to dismiss a person – only a behavior – or past lives – especially after they paid their penalties, mended their ways, have expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness.
Contradiction solved. Except for very exceptional wicked deeds, most people can be redeemed after big mistakes. And in any case, their good acts, no matter how little, should be recognized – except when they were done to hurt. (The pedophile molester who starts and maintains an orphanage and sports club to select the kids to assault.)
Let Bill Crosby go to jail for ten years. Let his judgment be a warning to others and say that we as society cannot overlook this. But after that and after he mended his ways, expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness, he can return to be part of society, and even play more good roles – if he distanced himself from his predatory behavior.
This especially, if he starts teaching about rape: that it is violence – not a type of sex, that the victim is always guiltless – stop blaming the victim and stop shaming yourself, that most rapes are done by people we know – not by strangers, that there is prevention and there is recovery – please seek help and join other survivors, etc.
And also, we can celebrate the good he did. Just like the Torah tells us, that after all the years of slavery in Egypt, Jews are not allowed to hate the Egyptians because after all, we were sustained in their land – even if only under the worst of conditions.
Happy Jerusalem day from Jerusalem!