What’s your story?
I want to say something tonight that will change the minds of those who are blinded by ignorance, prejudice or worse. Something that will reach every heart, from the Hasidic Jew in New York City this afternoon protesting Israel’s right to exist to the Muslim protester in Antwerp yesterday calling for the slaughter of the Jews. Something that will reach the heart of every person who calls for the indiscriminate death of Palestinians–as if that will end the conflict–without considering those boys and girls who must do the dirty work, how many lives it will cost, and what could be the toll on the collective Jewish soul.
What I have heard time and again over the last days, unfortunately, is that there is no changing people’s minds through the media. Most people who read my words or hear me teach, by and large, share a worldview similar to my own. They will “like” me and “follow” me because I affirm their way of thinking. If I don’t, chances are, they are hearing opinions different from my own. And if we do engage with people who disagree with us on a charged subject, we are typically responding in anger, dismissing the other as out of touch with reality.
What can I offer, then, to move people just a little from where they are? Perhaps the personal story. The narrative that isn’t filled with history or facts or politics or agenda. Just a real life story of one person’s experience that dares the listener to identify, to empathize and maybe even to change perspective for a moment.
Ariel is a father of 3, a great guy, my sister’s neighbor on the moshav. Looking at him in a t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops, you’d never know he was one of Israel’s top fighter pilots. A retired pilot now, a former commander of an air force base, now serving as general manager of a charitable foundation. A couple of weeks ago, Ariel’s 18 year old son, Guy, finished his army training, receiving an award as the outstanding soldier of his unit. Guy is a fun-loving boy who has no desire to hurt anyone. Ariel loves flying to reach the heavens, where he finds peace. Today, Ariel is back in active service, flying over Gaza, giving cover to the troops below. Giving cover to his son.
Israel just reported its first casualty of the ground incursion. I hope you will pray with me for the peace that Ariel and Guy want, the safety of their family and the prosperity of their neighbors. Pray with me that they come home safely and to safety. Soon.
Feels good to share a story. Perhaps you’ll share one of your own?
Rabbi Craig Scheff