Thursday, May 14, 2009


So, another good friend inquires if one must have progressive political views in order to be out of the echo chamber. Perish the thought. In fact, I am equally critical of my liberal friends -- some of whom had trouble even acknowleding the legitimacy of the Bush administration. I recall several years ago during the Bush-Kerry election (talk about bad choices!) a colleague who came to my office in tears after the other members of my staff learned that she had, imagine this, voted for Bush! Intolerance of other views, like Hebrew and English, moves left to right and right to left.

What am I talking about? What am I writing about?

I guess its a general frustration with the quality of community in the United States today. A wise woman told me this week that our current crisis is a result of the "commoditization" of other people. Some of us, myself included at times, treat people like commodities -- their utility to us (and perhaps to our causes) being the only measure of their worth. Our system buys and sells them -- their mortgages, their credit accounts and plays with them in any way that it pleases.

Of course, I am not calling for the end of capitalism. Anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty clear about my fiscally conservative beliefs. That said, I really believe that we need to begin to treat people like people and not potential assets.

I recall a wonderful TV PSA (its all about TV, you know) in which a highway you saw a highway and a group of drivers -- one family car included someone sitting a couch, another having what appeared to be a glass of lemonade. The upshot was the suggestion that we treat others like they were guests in our home -- even on the road.

I vote for graciousness, warmth and openess. Even toward those with whom we disagree.

As Rabbi Norman Lamm said, "Let's agree to disagree agreeably." Its too bad that more of us don't take that to heart.

Shabbat Shalom/Good Shabbos and Happy 36th day of the Omer.



  1. Great post Alan.

    However, I "disagree agreeably" that fiscal conservatism is the best ideology for treating people with "graciousness, warmth and openness."

    That is, capitalism when working at its absolute best, punishes the less fortunate for the benefit of the affluent.

    More specifically, it requires and encourages cheap labor to increase efficiency, and thus increase capital, as a result decreasing quality of life for the poor.

    Our society's "graciousness, warmth and openness" will increase exponentially if we turn this crisis into an opportunity to tweak our financial system in a way that encourages kindness and capital equally.

    Shabbat Shalom.
    -Joshua Shnider

  2. Norman Lamm is NOT my favorite person this week. His comments about the Conservative (Jewish, that is: big C) movement couldn't be more off base.


About Me

Brookline, MA, United States
Thought provoking discussion or musings of a kid from the other side of the tracks...