Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Other Side of The Story... There is Indeed Always One

Just a few weeks ago, an Ethiopian solider in Israel was involved in an altercation with a police officer. The officer struck the soldier and the entire episode was recorded on video. There's no sound, and nobody really knows what's being said. From our point of view, it is clear that the police officer certainly struck the soldier.

People strike each other every day. Sometimes people do it when they shouldn't, but at other times, they do when it needs to be done. Clearly, one cannot condemn a man defending himself from another and punching him or doing anything necessary to save his life (if need be.) Yet, if a man simply strikes others when he feels like it, he will certainly be in violation of basic societal rules - let alone the abundant transgressions from a Torah point of view.

But what if we see a man striking another and we do not actually know if he did so rightfully or not? How are we to judge and what makes us consider the striker in the wrong without adequate proof? Shortly after this episode took place, the soldier received an apology from the prime minister of Israel. Everyone saw that video and it seemed quite welcome. The media did a terrific job of sharing good values by not judging another for any one particular reason (like the colour of his skin.) It gave the world some reassurance that we are doing things right and we must know the right thing to do...

Are we ready to hear the other side of the story - and could it be valid (or have we perhaps already made up our minds?) Yes, there's no sound, so nobody can tell what's being said. Nobody seems to see the before scene of this either, having no real knowledge why the officer has appeared on the scene and what he might actually have being saying.

But perhaps we have all already made our decision. The public media has already shown who was in the right. We all saw the punches being thrown. But do we know what was actually going on at the scene?

It's something to think about in our daily interaction with others too - especially when we see things from afar - knowing nothing about what has brought the situation to be as it is - and what may have made the other do as they did.

It's a hard lesson and probably takes a life time of work before we can really think straight.

You be the judge. What really did transpire - however? Please - no negative comments about either side. If you have something positive to say, please feel free to share your comments. This post is in no way meant to take sides. It is meant to highlight how we are quick to make judgments, when quite often - there is another side to consider.

Watch the video below. Then read the news article - yes, the other side of the story: Cop at center of racial row: I'd like to tell Netanyahu what really happened

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Texting and Driving - The Power of One Word - Death and Life in the Power of the Tongue

There is at least one other post on my blog regarding the dangers of texting while driving. It's almost as if one wonders if there's another video that actually needs to share just how much danger there is in doing this. It cannot be over emphasized how important it is for us to take a break from staring at a screen in order to communicate with another - and to live life responsibly.

Sadly, today, with more and more technology available to make our lives "easier" to communicate with each other, it seems that not only are relationships more strained, but people are finding it harder and harder to communicate with each other as human beings - like they did in the old days - face to face! One may find people resorting to asking for forgiveness for something they have done wrong to another - by simply sending out a mass Facebook message to everyone on their "Friends" list asking all who they might have harmed for forgiveness (even from people not connected on their list,) and expecting that the request will have achieved its goals! A far cry from the Torah's definition (or quite frankly any feeling person's definition) of what the process of forgiveness is all about.

With the cost of calls coming done drastically from years ago - people are finding it harder and harder to use their phones to talk to people - as people. A quickie SMS or text message of some kind should do the job just as well - they think. Little do they realise the pain they cause to the recipients - who may really so much want to just have that real human interaction.

Ironically, today with facilities like Skype, making calls totally free - including video(!), people are finding it harder and harder to use their tools, relying on SM's (short messages,) and TOA's (tons of abbreviations) because we have come to lose appreciation for talking properly due to perceived time constraints!

Yet with all this, people are taking things to the limit by feeling that it's not only impossible to talk to one person as a person - we must resort to speaking (i.e. texting) to many people at once - multitasking - and being heralded as heroes for being so amazing!

The Torah teaches that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Indeed one word can kill. Sometimes, we don't always know what the Torah means by this. We scoff at the "silliness" of such pithy sayings - relegating them to the sayings of men of the past who "knew nothing" of the modern world.

Take a look at the video below, because it's well worth grasping all these points. Yes, death and life are in the power of the tongue - whether on a computer screen, or a word spoken in the air! One word can kill - in so many ways. Could it be that we might have accidentally killed another with just one word - without even knowing it? (Listen carefully to one of the stories and you will understand what I mean.)

Don't forget the power you have in your tongue to bring healing to others - or harm (if of course that is what you really wish.) Remember, the same word that you choose to use to another - may be a word that can cause mortal harm to you too - whether on a screen - or spoken through the air.

It's time to put down the phone - from being a slave to typing on it's screen every five minutes and dealing with so much small talk - so often, filled with abbreviations one has to be a genius to understand. It's time to value life. It's time to value other people. It's time to value the blessings G-d has given us all - to be able to use a phone (for speech) and the spoken word at such little cost to ourselves - and to be able to communicate with each other - as real human beings should.

And if we're not yet there and don't value any of this, then let us at least make a firm promise to never endanger our lives - and certainly not the lives of another - for our own pleasure of a silly word that achieves very little - which simply must be read or written down, while driving a car at a tremendous speed!

Please see my other post about texting while driving too.


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