Are we all right?
Hello US election week! There is something that feels a little bit better today, a little bit more right.
Congratulations to the United States of America on voting your hearts out! It is a huge accomplishment that more people voted than ever before. This is democracy in action. There is no perfect union, no perfect state, there is no perfect democracy. We are and continue to be the world's greatest experiment of a responsive, representative society that is the most glorious (for lack of a better word) mess.
I mean mess in the best possible way. The foundations are good and strong, letting each generation of voters straighten or mess it up in the best way we know how. What a relief to have checks and balances that work. And it is reassuring that in this election cycle, voices on both sides are heard loud and clear, and the biggest loud mouth of the country has been censured. It ain't over yet, as it is a messy process, but it sure feels like a clean win for the country, and not just one political party.
I am often seeking answers through writing these pieces, and processing the amazing and challenging experiences as a foreigner in a new land, and an expatriate. Was it right of me to move my children out of the United States after the 2016 election? I'm not sure this is a yes or no question, but every day we experience the joys of our worldly life I am reassured.
We had our first heavy rain of the season in Tel Aviv the other day. Someone from Tel Aviv posted this lovely message on facebook:
Someone must have passed by this parked car before the storm and covered the window of the stranger's car to prevent the rain from getting in. It is a such a simple, kind, and generous gesture, and it is really nice that the receiver shared it. The translation calls the person a "tzadeek", the Hebrew word for a righteous person. The word for right, as in correct, is "nachon". If you answer a question correctly, the response would be, "nachon", the answer is right. However, if a person is right, he is "zodek", right, from the same root as the word righteous.
Perhaps there is more expected from humans than things in the concept of rightness. People aren't just right, as in correct, if they are right, they have some sort of justice with them, or at least a differentiation based on morality. This makes being right far more nuanced and complex if you take justice and morality seriously. The kind gesture of the stranger to seal the car is indeed an act of a righteous person. Does being right require a similar moral code? Am I so confident in my rightness that I can shout it in your face?
I believe, and I may or may not be right here, that there is a right and wrong way to communicate. Disrespectful communication is just plain wrong. I try to model and teach my kids this every day, that every word and action counts. Opinions are neither right nor wrong, just opinions. And maybe it is a bit self-righteous to feel that people are either right or wrong. We are just people, trying to make sense of our situations large and small. In the past several years the rhetoric surrounding politics and news cycles and even between each other has felt black and white, "I am right and you are wrong". There is no in between. There is hardly a tolerance for differing opinions, and therefore, there has not been room for improvement, for adjustment, acceptance, and respect. It has not been charmingly messy, it has been destructive and stifling. Since we are all but certain these days that the information we receive is varied, inconsistent, sometimes false, and worse, maliciously directed, we have even messier situations to make sense of. If there is something I am taking away from this election, is that all we have is each other, even and especially the amalgamation of our differences. Being active participants in our society is not an easy road to walk together, especially because of our differences, but nonetheless, we are walking the road together. Some may want to dig their heels in and rant and rage about their rightness. They can join the rest of us in moving forward when they are ready.
I want to thank Joe and Kamala in the very least (and for me the most) for speaking with integrity and kindness. Our ability to communicate respectfully, with a balance of humility to make room for the other, is where right becomes righteous. Right now, I feel alright.