Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

Blog #243: Taking stock

On August 14, 2017 my first blog appeared on Times of Israel, under the Atlanta Jewish Times banner.  Titled I read the news. And my heart hurts, it was prompted by the hate spewed at the “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA earlier that week. Since then, more often than not, in the over 240 blogs I’ve written since, I often used current events to spur the thoughts I shared.

Sometimes I diverged. I’ve written about history in different ways, whether it was how I think it ought to be taught, the need to make accessible stolen communal documents, or in terms of my own genealogical journey. I’ve written about the Jewish people’s rich diversity, antisemitism, and of course the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I’ve often written about how the Golden Rule and empathy ought to guide our thoughts and actions – not the desire to one-up anyone or to selfishly only take care of ourselves and our own.

Keeping a weekly deadline meant I did not always write from the gut, but I always tried to make sure that I wasn’t always adding empty words to a world full of cacophony.

*  *  *

“I have a theory about hate,” I wrote in that very first blog. “People are insecure. And they don’t want to be. So they look for ways to put others down to puff themselves up.” It’s easy to do that, I continued, “when you label and categorize people who are different into faceless groups of ‘others.’  Us vs. them is a certain way to dehumanize. They are different, therefore they count less.”

In the almost five years I’ve been blogging weekly, my take on why people hurt others has not really changed. And we see it in bigger ways. Not just when unfair laws are promulgated, but when school boards ban books and when countries invade neighbors.

What bothers me is that I can’t see this ever changing. At least not easily. And certainly never completely. But I do believe that we each have the power to change how we approach others and the world. And that the choices we make can overflow and impact others.

This semester, I will complete two master’s degrees. But I will not stop learning. I’ve already been accepted into a program to earn a graduate certificate in peacebuilding. Why? Just as I believe we ought to treat others as we would want to be treated, and we need to examine our own weaknesses before we attack the flaws of others, I also believe in a better tomorrow.

*  *  *

So – human nature will not change and yet I cling to hope for a better future. Because that is in my nature. If you scroll backwards through my blogs, you may see that in the topics I tackle and the positions I take.

But I have taken the same positions over and over again and, of course, the world has not changed. Whether or not I’ve influenced people’s views, I have no idea. But I do know that I’ve decided to step back from blogging weekly. From now on, I will write only when I feel a deep-seated need, when I believe I can advance a conversation instead of tread water in it.

I’ll end with a thank you and a wish for us all: Thank you for those who’ve read my blogs in the past (and if you haven’t, please feel free to check them out). And the wish: May we all never stop growing and learning and aiming to be more thoughtful in our interactions with others.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. An Ashkenazi mom to Mizrahi sons born in Israel and the US, a DIL born in France and a step mom to sons born in the South, she celebrates trying to see from multiple perspectives and hope this comes out in her blogs. Wendy splits her time between her research position at the Center for Israel Education, completing dual master's degrees in public administration and integrated global communications, digging into genealogy and bring distant family together, relentlessly Facebooking, and enjoying the arts as well. All of this is to say -- there are many ways to see and understand.
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