Many things that are helpful as we are growing up become limitations as we mature. Specifically I am speaking of the ability we have to label things and place them in categories. It is very helpful for a child to discover that Dad is a man, Mom is a woman, my dog is an animal, my cat is an animal but not a dog, etc. Knowing where particular things fit help us make sense of the world.
Unfortunately, many of us don't progress past the state of putting things in categories and then realizing more fine-tuning is necessary. In 2 Chronicles 35 King Josiah, easily one of the best kings in the Southern Kingdom's history, dies when he refuses to hear God's voice coming through Israel's historical enemy, Pharaoh Neco, the ruler of Egypt. His experience, his DNA, told him that Egypt was the enemy and must be resisted. In this case, God was telling him through Pharaoh Neco to just let Pharaoh through the kingdom's territory and nothing amiss would occur. He couldn't hear and so he was killed.
An absolute essential for a grown-up is to be able to detect nuance and shades of meaning or function. We laugh at memes on Facebook but they often are bastions of stupidity. Jews don't all act alike, neither do blacks, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, you name it. I don't always act the same in similar situations. Communism is generally thought to be a dictatorial type of socialism. There are many types of socialism that are not communist. Equating all socialists as communists or communists in embryo makes us look stupid and ill-informed.
The richest thing I am now beholding is people using Putin as a force against socialism and communism. I like Putin a lot better when he is far from me and I am not doing something he doesn't like. His enemies seems to have abbreviated life-spans. I don't measure Putin by his politics--I don't care for his behavior.
We need to learn to know people for who they really are. Not their group, their political party nor their religion. All of these contribute to the identity of the person but none determine who he or she actually is. It is lazy thinking to place people in boxes we detest so we don't have to think about them or learn to know them. The political rhetoric in this country right now is a great example of what to avoid. Because a person is a never-Trumper or an always-Trumper doesn't tell you much about that person except what Presidential candidate they will likely vote for. I am amazed how many people I truly like if I just make the effort to get to know them and jettison my labels and boxes. I have a list of names I would love to eliminate but I don't need everyone mad at me at once. (The "names" I would like to eliminate are not people--they are the names and labels we use to marginalize and demonize those we disagree with.) When the "right" and the "left" continually scream that the other side is ruining the country I sadly agree. Because after the "right" has eliminated the "left" and the "left" has eliminated the "right" we have all achieved a pyrrhic victory. The final blessing in the Aaronic benediction from Numbers 6 proclaims "the Lord lift up his face toward you and grant you shalom (peace.) May you enjoy a blessed Shabbat.
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