I might be wrong
Taking Responsibility for a Peaceful World: An Anarchist Approach
I currently study the basics of computer science at a college in Tel Aviv. My program is somewhat different from most academic programs out there for the following reasons: The army placed me there. They pay for the program, and I am even getting paid a normal army salary. Another difference is that my peers are all members or ex-members of the Haredi, the Orthodox community in or outside Israel.
The reason I am telling you this is not only to update you on my life but much more to help you understand and be inspired by the following situation:
To get a diploma, and to enter a more sophisticated and specific course in the army, the guys in my program must pass some exams at the end of our course. Believe me when I say that some of us want to achieve that very badly, simply because for many this is a unique opportunity to become a respected and independent member of society, as opposed to a financial burden. However, for some this is less of a priority and just like problems appear everywhere, also here, we encounter some serious problems. Especially when one part of the class realizes that the other half has a different mindset than them. Either you are investing and working your butt off, or you are lazy. One part of the class thinks that the others are preventing them from progressing, whereas the other part thinks that the others are progressing too fast. A third way would be to blame the army’s top-skill „organization“ for causing those problems. This would never happen in a „normal“ program for which people pay with their own money and apply voluntarily. Anyway, as time proceeds, tensions in our class rise, and occasionally a tense bubble of accumulated sorrows, expectations, and emotions bursts. This is what happened last week. After a break, the class was getting into a discussion with the teacher about how he should continue to teach the class. One of the motivated students became very emotional after his colleague expressed his concerns about the class progressing too fast: „Achi (brother) you don’t even know how much I‘m investing to succeed in this course. Every day I sit down for hours and study. And I have a wife and a kid at home!“ After receiving an unsupportive answer the motivated guy couldn’t hold himself back and shouted, „shut the f*** up!“
I was surprised that the situation escalated that quickly and as a reaction, I tried to calm them down. Thanks to my poor Hebrew vocabulary which is much needed in such a situation, I failed. But that is the crazy part, I didn’t even have to succeed. Everyone immediately realized how much things got out of hand and so the heated atmosphere suddenly became one of shame. Only a few moments before we prayed the afternoon prayer in the same place, doing what? Asking G-d to live peacefully together? It is rather hard to imagine that anyone took such a prayer seriously, considering the lack of peace in the room. Praying piously on one hand and shouting at each other in rage on the other hand. Nobody can seriously say that this is good practice. And so, five minutes later, the guy who shouted at his friend approached him and asked for forgiveness. „Whatever I just told you, I didn’t mean it and I‘m sorry if I hurt you.“ I was observing and enjoying the drama. There is no better movie than a real one. But this was more than a movie. This was one of the best life lessons I learned so far. It was the realization of the previously recited prayers and there is nothing more exciting and wonderful than seeing a prayer being fulfilled.
Our days are packed with similar situations. Be it this insane driver cutting off one’s way or a friend or a family member who wants to talk to us while we are in a terrible mood. We can always decide between sanity and insanity. I am not sure how much and how often G-d fulfils our prayers, and if at all. But I do know that we can fulfill our prayers ourselves by being like G-d – all good. Is that not what He wants from us? Is that not the challenge? If our prayers would be fulfilled right away, and we would not have to struggle and figure stuff out, we would never experience success. After my friend apologized to the other guy, the classroom, after going through phases of rage and then shame, now arrived at a stage of holiness. A synagogue was nothing compared to this holy classroom. Engaging, struggling, and living with people while keeping our prayers in mind, I think the world could be an amazing place like this.
Israel is so terribly divided. The atmosphere is one of rage. Sometimes a little shame enters the arena, shame for how we are displaying the exact opposite of what we could or should. But not enough shame for us to remember our prayers and make peace with each other. Not yet. My friend proved it. It is possible. And we should use every situation to do the same thing. There is no need to make our politicians responsible for that. They might never do it.