I come from a long Jewish tradition that believes that everything is for the best, that G-d protects us Jews and that we have survived for thousands of years under the harshest of conditions. However, I believe that in this world we must take the initiative to solve our own problems, and that we can.
But today I hear again and again that we Jews are worried. We worry that the entire world is out to kill us, that antisemitism is on the rise, and it is worse than ever. I hear that it is no longer safe to be Jewish in America, that there is strong antisemitism in American universities, that every major synagogue needs police protection, and mass shootings have come and will continue to come to Jewish organizations and others.
I hear that we Jews are worried about speaking out about antisemitism and the need for action for fear that we will be intimidated, just as anyone will be for speaking publicly about it. At dinner a few nights ago, I was told that a man sitting outside of a coffee shop at North Druid Hills was asked if he was Jewish because he was wearing a kippah. When the man said, “Yes, I am Jewish,” the other guy spit on the man and said, “All you Jews should be killed.”
I hear that people are worried about the government, that many members in Congress are antisemitic, that the government can’t be trusted, that the news can’t be trusted, and that applies to every news outlet – the newspapers, the press, TV and the Internet. There is a worry that all European countries are going to lose their democracies and come under the influence of Muslims, that all Muslims hate the Jews, and it is only a short amount of time before the Muslims take over European governments and the U.S. government.
There is a worry that abortions will be outlawed nationwide, that thousands of books dealing with slavery, sexual orientation, and other matters will be outlawed nationwide, and that white male Protestants will once again control the power in this country, and the rest of us will be second class citizens.
Most of all, I am told that there are lots of people who do not believe in the rule of law or the U.S. Constitution when it goes against their beliefs, and the only way to get this country to do what they want done is with military force. Worriers believe they must have their own gun, or at least to strongly consider buying one. They believe they cannot trust anyone, and the only protection they have is to protect themselves with a weapon, the more powerful the weapon the better.
It is true that living in peace requires everyone to support the peace, and a few people who don’t like the way it is can destroy the peace by force. Keeping the peace requires strong security and a commitment to live by the rules of society. It only takes a few people to disrupt the peace, and it requires strong security leadership committed to the rule of law to maintain the peace.
Unfortunately, one evil leader can not only destroy the peace, but also undermine the rule of law and democracy itself. I hear that there are evil people, and some have risen to positions of power. Optimists want to be sure these evil people cannot be in a position of power ever again.
People I had talked with worry about Hezbollah, Iran fighting a second battle against Israel. They worry that the U.S. support for Israel will not continue, that money to continue the battle in Ukraine against Russia will dry up, and NATO will not be there when Israel and the U.S. needs them. People worry that their children will inherit a world where they will not be able to be better than we are, and probably be worse off.
Optimism about the future is always undermined by worry, and it only takes a few worriers who can scare the optimists. We optimists need to speak out, or else we will be consumed by the worriers. To remain an optimist, you must be in action to address the worriers. As an optimist, you have to tell the worriers that there are solutions to many of their worries, and either spell them out or fight to have others solve them. If your worries are political, then make your vote count, and be sure that others vote, too.
And, of course, many of their worries may not occur, for most worries do not happen. Failing to take action simply reinforces to worriers that their worry will come true.