For educators, summertime is supposed to be a great time. Many of us have large swaths of time off, even if for most of us it is unpaid. One would think that that this great, especially during a summer like this one where the weather has been most cooperative. Usually, any summer without major schvitz is a good one in my book! But this summer has been different. Personally, I have been hampered by a bad ankle, which was re-injured in June. Wearing an ankle brace does not go well with sandals and pedicures. (I was tempted to call this “My Left Foot,” but you have to be old to know that movie.) I’ve been pretty angry about my ankle (I’m finally feeling some progress just in time for school to begin) and my lack of mobility has let to way too much news watching. And what I have seen has made me angry.
When we began the summer, three teens in Israel went missing. I was fearful for them and I knew, in my gut, that this was not going to end well. And it still hasn’t ended.
I’m angry that Israelis have been dodging missile strikes for longer than any of us in the West realized.
I’m angry that just because Israelis aren’t dying from the strikes, the world acts as if they don’t matter.
I’m angry that Israelis have died, soldiers and civilians.
I’m angry Israeli children are sleeping in safe rooms and stairwells during nap time. I’m angry that in many Israeli towns, the sound of the siren is a call for fear and not just an alert that Shabbat is about to begin.
I’m angry that Hamas has built no such safe rooms for its own children.
I’m angry that the Gazans elected terrorists as their leaders.
I’m angry that Hamas sees such little value for the lives of their people that they put them at risk.
I’m angry that Hamas has turned Israelis into murders by their use of human shields.
I’m angry that instead of building schools and hospitals to help Gazans, Hamas built tunnels to destroy Israel.
I’m angry that Hamas dares to break every convention of decency by placing bombs and other weapons in schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods.
I’m angry that Hamas hates Israel so much that they are willing to destroy their own in an effort to destroy Israel. Golda Meir’s words still stand: Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.
I’m angry that this has led to anti-Semitic violence around the world.
I’m angry that whatever lesson plans and curriculum we have for teaching Israel will have to be tossed and rewritten, even though most of us have no clue what to say and many of us will continue to teach the happy, conflict-free version of Israel.
I’m angry that it seemed sometimes as if the world were falling apart.
I’m angry that airplanes fell from the sky, some by bombs, some by weather, some by who-knows?
I’m angry that American troops are back in Iraq.
I’m angry that Facebook is no longer fun. It is the place to find news that I don’t find elsewhere. It is now the first place to hear about death and destruction.
I’m angry that “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free,” doesn’t seem to apply if you come to America from the south. The government who welcomed my ancestors from the hands of oppressors are so mean-spirited and ungenerous when it comes to children fleeing gangs and harm.
I’m angry that there are those who think their interpretation of the Second Amendment trumps all others. I’m angry that they forget about the other rules of law and don’t want the government to interfere with their lives, except for their own entitlements.
I’m angry that Robin Williams killed himself. First I was really angry at him. How dare he do something so narcissistic! You have three children. Suck it up! Life is hard. How dare you! As word has surfaced, who knows what is true, that he was ill and clinically depressed, I was angry at myself for being such an idiot and I became angry that he felt that he had no choice.
I’m angry that police seem to think that their power is in their guns. That their power is in their force. That they kill over such crap as who is selling cigarettes on the street in Staten Island. That they kill over who is walking on the sidewalk and who isn’t. That one shot isn’t enough. That they kill black men, black boys, without a thought. That the value of the lives of Eric Garner and Mike Brown are up for debate. I’m angry that the story never changes whether it is Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo. I’m angry that there are those who see this as an excuse to steal and destroy.
I’m angry that there are ugly, prejudiced people in this country who are celebrating and glorifying the officer who shot Mike Brown.
So what do I do with all this anger? Some would say that I have to stop watching tv or looking at the news. With Rosh Hodesh Elul just around the corner, it seems that I must find a better way. Even though it is a struggle, I am going to follow some of my Facebook friends who search daily for something to be grateful for. Here goes:
I’m grateful that Israel still stands, and always will, as a free nation.
I’m grateful that I live in a nation where I will have Jewish students to teach Judaism to, even if I have no idea what to say.
I’m grateful that my great grandparents were able to come to America and escape whatever horrors followed.
I’m grateful that my five beautiful nieces are successfully finding their way. Their world may not be 100% perfect, but because they’re white, they don’t have to worry about being shot on the streets by police, at least not on purpose.
I’m grateful that I have a home that has little chance of being bombed along with a loving spouse and the most spectacular kitties that ever existed.
I’m grateful that in front of the makeshift memorial where Mike Brown was killed, someone has set up a voter registration table.
I’m grateful that Robin Williams’ death is leading to a discussion on mental health in this country. Since it is not related to the Second Amendment, maybe it will even go somewhere.
I’m grateful to have wonderful children in my life who will have the opportunity to explore the world as they grow.
I’m grateful to have a diverse group of friends who I can discuss the hard issues with.
I’m grateful that I can have a list of things I’m grateful about, even if it shorter than the list of things that I am angry about.
The Torah tells us that there are blessings and curses and we should find the blessings. The Torah tells us to choose life.
And I’m grateful for my good health. Except of course for my left foot!