For those missing my episode of rare charity and kindness, see http://40andoverblog.com/?p=5836
I am so better at being smug.
Well, Niki, the man whose wallet I returned, sent me the Book of Mormon, with a passage of scripture marked for me.
SIDEBAR: Not show tickets, all you incredibly parochial urbane people, but the Mormon Testament.
Niki seemed a little too clueless for New York. Did he know I was a New York Jewish lesbian? I don’t think he was proselytizing to me. I think he sent the Book and the quotation as a genuine thank-you, in his belief system. And I welcomed the gift that way.
And I remember a time when I was easy to trash other religions, belief systems, etc. And I hurt people. Because I was parochial and naive and egocentric. In fact, I remember the precise moment at College when I offended someone from Utah, through my ass-hole-ish intolerance and regurgitation of stupid judgments I had heard in my young life.
This was my moment. I can’t undo what I was. But I can be better. And, somewhere this religious conscientious observer found grace through Niki’s rather powerful expression of the kind and charitable person he thought I was. But I am not that person, as the following will show. I sent the following message to Niki:
Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful gift and kind words. I don’t ever need to be thanked for doing the right thing. Simply because it is the right thing. We are all accountable for what we do, whether to G-d or each other. There is a Hebrew prayer that, in modern translation, means “let me live my days so that fear or guilt does not haunt my sleep at night.” I found that meditation quite powerful, although I must admit I do not always live up to it.
Although I am Jewish, I have often meditated on the passage in Corinthians, which is akin to your passage:
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
But, really, “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly”, is a common ground for all of our faiths.
So, I did what I did because I could not do otherwise. No thanks. Just humanity.
I hope all good things for you and your family. [Blogger]”
Now that I read it over now, I think, did I have to mention so many times that I am Jewish? Or did I need that passage from the Hebrew Bible about humbly walking with G-d? Did I have to mention (in a smirk-y way) how close the Mormon passage is to the other Christian Bible?
In the guise of “common ground,” I pointed out the differences, and missed the basic message. And missed an opportunity to reach across a divide. Instead I demarcated ever more profoundly the De-Militarized Zone that separates us.
Ok, simply? I am a schmuck (in the figurative sense of the word).
When will I ever learn? And worse, yet, am I passing it on to SOS??