Renewal in a Toxic Political Environment

Like so many, I’ve become a news junky, especially since Donald Trump became president.

For those who care about government policy as a vehicle to help improve our nation’s quality of life, who believe in the partnership between government, the private sector, NGOs, and religious communities in moving the nation forward as a just and compassionate society, and who yearn for a foreign policy that is strategically sound, peace-oriented, and dignified – Trump is anathema.

Yet, despite my strong interest in the news, for my own well-being – and perhaps for yours too – we need to be able to step back and disengage from time to time from the toxicity of politics in general and the malignant narcissism of Trump in particular.

To these ends, I was moved this week when listening to an interview of the veteran conservative commentator George Will (a never-Trump former Republican) of The Washington Post by Preet Bharara on his “Stay Tuned with Preet” Podcast (July 18, 2019).

Will said:

“One of the invaluable messages after the political intoxications of the 20th century is that politics should not be what defines your identity; that government has a great and stately jurisdiction but it’s not everything. And if you are looking for excitement; if you are looking for spiritual fulfillment; if you are looking for the meaning in life, don’t look to politics because we see what happens when mass movements become intoxicated by political movements fighting faiths, fascism, communism and the like that try to envelop their lives – it’s not healthy.”

Our challenge, therefore, ought to be to stay engaged but maintain our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and creative balance while at the same time registering new voters, fighting voter suppression and foreign intervention in our elections, and voting in a new president and democratic controlled Senate in 2020. Along the way, as Will suggests, we need to be able to step away enough to be able nurture our hearts, minds, and souls in ways that are restorative.

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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