Holidays, whether we observe them or not, offer us an opportunity to reflect on our personal journey and that of our society. We have traveled a long way in the last year, even as most of us stayed home most of the time.
by Irit Umani, Austin, Texas
It is Passover tomorrow evening. In the safety of my home this Friday, I am listening to good old Israeli music that I grew up on. Oh how I love these songs, in my ancient language and from my formative years. While the music soothes my heart, my mind is thinking about my own journey toward freedom and the collective journey of “we, the people.”
How is my tendency to form an opinion fast and jump into action/solutions keeping me from integrating a more inclusive truth that would follow a slower dialogue?
Who am I keeping out of my heart?
Which past and present wounds keep me isolated, self-righteous, afraid?
Am I ready and able to let go of some of these and be free of, at least some of, my inner bondages?
I look back at the year we all lived through from last Passover to this one.
Last week, it was a year since we had no choice but to close the doors of a day center for people who live on the streets, unsheltered, un-housed. Though we created ways to keep feeding, serving, clothing, supporting our brothers and sisters, we lost the experience of being in community in one big noisy room full of life (also full of suffering). PANDEMIC.
Are we “each to its own,” or a “village” that takes care of the most vulnerable? What should we change to avoid being the worst in the world at spreading a deadly virus? What are the societal bondages and mindsets of slavery that must alter if we wish to be free?
Thank God we, barely, escaped (but escape we did) the bondage of autocracy and chose, again, the experiment of democracy. For now. The lies, the hatred, the insurrection, the attempt at sedition, before and since the election, put anyone who pays attention on notice. We are, no doubt, in the bondage of separation, othering, power grabbing at any cost, fragility of our political systems. ELECTION.
We are the only country in the world, even as we think we are the best, where citizens own mass-killing weapons. We call it freedom.
We are the only developed country in the world that lacks access to reasonable health care for all. We call it free market.
We are a broken political system, where a minority party can block progress that the majority voted for. We call it democracy.
We call ourselves “the brave and the free.” We are neither.
We, the people, are still in the desert. We journeyed out of Egypt, but we have not yet arrived at the Promised Land. We are still struggling and inching our way toward a just, equitable, free society.
May the journey continue, and may we arrive.