Alan Simons
Author | Writer | Social & Allyship Advocate

Our pain and anger: Searching for the truth

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that you don’t recover. Instead, you learn to incorporate their absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy towards others, and eventually, your grief will walk beside you instead of consuming you.

Sections of the following article originally appeared in the Times of Israel on June 24, 2022, and as a podcast on the Community Jewish News Podcast service.

Sixty-four years ago, in 1959, Bertrand Russell (1872 to 1970), the Welsh-born Nobel Prize-winning British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social critic, and peace activist was just short of his 87th birthday, when he gave an all-embracing interview to the BBC and the CBC.

It was said, “At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these in any profound sense.”

Russell was interviewed by John Freeman, the British politician, diplomat, and broadcaster who asked him: “Suppose Lord Russell this film was to be looked at by our descendants like a Dead Sea scroll in a thousand years, what would you think it’s worth telling that generation about the life you’ve lived and the lessons you’ve learned from it? ”

Russell responded by saying:

“I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral: The intellectual thing, I should want to say to them, is this: When you are studying any matter or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only “What are the facts, and what is the truth that the facts bear out?” Never let yourself be diverted, either by what you wish to believe or by what you think could have beneficial social effects, if it were believed. But look only and solely at: “What are the facts?” That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.

“The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple. I should say: Love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other. We have to learn to put up with the fact, that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. And if we are to live together and not to die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”

Bertrand Russell’s comments bring me to last year’s ongoing presentation by the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. It was extraordinary!

It was reported Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), also on the panel, and a constitutional lawyer, told CNN’s Dana Bash, “Everything we’re doing is documented by evidence, unlike the Big Lie, which is based on nonsense, as former Attorney General Barr said, everything we’re doing is based on facts.”

Fact or Nonsense? Are Jews self-centered and self-righteous?

To our non-Jewish friends, I say we Jews collectively observe you from outside of your goldfish bowl in a manner that you might call self-centered and self-righteous. We, though, might call it self-preservation. Remember, we Jews have a DNA instinct regarding hate and intolerance going back thousands of years.

Post-COVID-19, it would seem, has generated rudeness amongst many of our young and old, caused in theory, by a cloud of angel dust or PCP, also known as phencyclidine, being sprinkled on all society.

Here in Canada where I live, Lord knows, we have our issues as a society, and I doubt it certainly won’t get appreciably better, especially politically, within the next few years. Yet, our young people, like yours, have a say in the outcome.

Bertrand Russell - Message To Future Generations 002

Bertrand Russell – Message To Future Generations (1959)

>>>Click HERE to watch this video <<<

As it’s been said, not just a moral voice but a moral responsibility. If indifference rules us, we won’t come close to correcting the disorder. Too many with intolerance and hate are nauseated to change. Too many are best described as being pathetic followers of antisemitism, Islamophobia, of being anti-Christian, on all sides of the fence, with personalities right out of a Thomas Pynchon novel.

It’s a classic reversal procedure, overcoming the terror of being wrong and as in some cultures, losing face. Being provocative is also useful in helping the antisemite and in some cultures, the anti-Christian, from looking absurd within peer groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Party of Liberation, one of the most perilous and fanatical antisemitic and anti-Christian radical organizations in the world.

Nor will it be foolish to dismiss the theocratic and political cronies based in Iran who, let me remind you, ten years ago I wrote about them. I said:

On November 8, 2013, in an exclusive report published by WND, the Fars News Agency, an outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards, last week posted an audiotape of excerpts of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s speeches to Palestinian officials and others with the title “Palestine will surely become free. In the audiotape, which is partly in Arabic, Khamenei gives blessings to those who fight against Israel and says, “Peace be upon the children of our nation, and peace be upon the brave jihadists in Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. Today the Islamic world and the whole world are witnesses to great revelations that show a change in international affairs. The ayatollah promises a restructuring of the Middle East: “Palestine will be free, have no doubt in this. … Palestinians will return there and there will be a Palestinian government … and that is based on the truth revealed by God. The new Middle East will be … an Islamic Middle East.”

For many of us, this may all seem terrifying and utterly sick. But, it doesn’t matter to the provocateurs. And that’s where it becomes precarious, living in such a society, neighbour pitted against neighbour goes against everything Bertrand Russell spoke of. As he said, I quote, “In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other.”

But, how does one tolerate the sickness that pervades in such societies?

Love is wise, hatred is foolish.

Some years ago I wrote about losing a loved one in one of my published books, Eighteen Months-A Love Story Interrupted. I said: “It’s been written that when a person dies, his or her spirit lives in those who remember. Our tradition is very specific in providing us with ways of remembering our loved ones. In addition, our tradition does not allow us to forget those who have died. Finding an appropriate way of honouring and remembering the dead is one of the goals of the mourning process.”

Later, I added the following quote from an unknown source: “Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that you don’t recover. Instead, you learn to incorporate their absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy towards others, and eventually, your grief will walk beside you instead of consuming you.”

I asked my readers to comment on the two statements and they did! The outpouring of remarks was extraordinary. The response crossed all lines and showed the empathy we have towards our loved ones who have died. To express our love to those close to us is one thing, especially when our children are killed. However, to express it on social media and be identified with one’s name and photograph, opens a new path to our private life.

In too many parts of the world, we have experienced hate and intolerance resulting in the death of our brothers and sisters of all religious persuasions. Be it the mass shootings of young innocent school children in the USA, to the massacres a few years ago of Christian farming communities in Nigeria, to Russia’s blood-thirsty war against Ukraine, and now to the massacre of Jewish babies, children and adults by the murderous, barbarian Hamas terrorists, surely affects us.

Yet, as Jews, be it against the antisemite, Elie Wiesel said fittingly, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

And I will add to that; open your mind to the fact that there are many non-Jews, of all cultures, who at this time are offering to support the Jewish people. Do not close your door to friendship. For us, time is of the essence. Take advantage of it, even if you have never done so before.♦

Sources and Credits: Photos, Alan Simons; Bertrand Russell – Message To Future Generations (1959); PhilosophieKanal/YouTube;

About the Author
Simons is an author, writer and social & allyship advocate. He publishes an online international news service, now in its 15th year, dealing with issues relating to intolerance, hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia, conflict, and terrorism, as well as an online community news site. As a diplomat, he served as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Rwanda to Canada, post-genocide era. He has lectured and designed courses in the areas of therapeutic management, religion in politics, and communications. He recently published his sixth book.
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