This morning I read, 30 Of The Most Powerful Images Ever (linked at the bottom of the page). The photos captured the best and worst of the human-condition; all from different places and times. As difficult as it was, I pictured myself in each individual image. Though all of them were extremely powerful, a couple in particular drummed up some incredible personal emotions and insight. The capacity of vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person is called empathy. The phrase, "..putting yourself in someone else's shoes..", is a figurative expression perfectly explaining it. That being said, I don't want you to understand my post today... I want you to FEEL it.
I am half-Jewish and damn proud of it. There has always been an ongoing debate about the differences of Jewish ethnicity and religion. This is arguable on so many levels, it's not even funny. Well maybe a little bit because most of the Jews I know, have a great sense of humor. Regardless, it's my heritage and I love it. I have in the past and will always stick up for the Jewish people in this world. Now let me show you one of the pictures that moved me, from the article I mentioned.
|This is the inside of a gas chamber at Auschwitz (Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp) - Poland|
I saw this picture and my heart stopped, my eyes welled up with tears and an anger started to burn deep in the pit of my stomach. Some of my Jewish ancestors immigrated from Poland at the beginning of the twentieth-century. Though it's inconclusive, I imagine some of them stayed right there. If you can't tell what those lines are on the wall; they're fingernail scratches. They signify the final desperate actions of people fighting for just one more breath. As I stared at this photo, I started to think that some of those death marks on the wall could easily be from my own relatives' hands. Then I imagined myself clawing at the concrete, wearing my bloody fingertips down to the bone and praying for a miracle... suddenly I flashed back to sitting here in front of my computer, overwhelmed with helplessness.
|BEAR JEW (photo not from mentioned article)|
If I were presented with the opportunity to fight in that war; I would have done indescribably horrific things to the opposition. Let me put it like this, anyone that has watched the movie Inglorious Basterds remembers the "Bear Jew", right? What you saw him do in that movie, would've been just the tip of the iceberg for me. I would have been legendarily more cruel than Hitler himself. It's strange that we justify punishing cruelty with more cruelty; and of course we base that on the phrase, "Well HE started it!". This is one of those things where my empathy is getting the best of me and I am beyond grateful that none of this was my calling in life.
Sorry about that everyone. That was rather revealing, but as you all can tell it's a sensitive subject for me. In my past, I have literally been in fist-fights over my heritage. I don't go in search of these situations, but on a few rare occasions it has come to that. Most people are just being ignorant when they say something offensive; a few gentle words about their offensiveness and that brings them back to an embarrassing reality. However, some people take embarrassment as the ultimate insult and others are literally just full of hate. It's schmucks like this that are hard to walk away from because they will usually try to punch you in the back of the head. This is where the term "Jew 'em down" isn't about money to me, but about a Jew knocking you down on the ground. Plain and simple, it's just ridiculous.
|These are the graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband in Holland circa 1888|
The picture above, to me, represents a very true form of love. They did not live by the status quo and they even found a way to stay with one another for eternity. When I saw this in the article, it immediately made me think of my failed relationships of the past. Those iconic hands holding one another made mine feel rather empty. Twice in my life, I have had a girlfriend's parent share with them their discomfort about me being Jewish. Which in turn creates a whole new set of challenges that I have never been able to overcome. The first time it happened, I chalked it up to being young. When it happened in my last relationship, I did my best to navigate through it. We never fully came back from that. My girlfriend even had the nerve to say, "I want my parents to like you.", but what was that supposed to take, going back in a time machine to prevent my Jewishness? You would think the people of the 21st century could let those things go, but I digress. In all reality, these women lacked compassion and empathy almost altogether. My own parents are very much a future version of this couple in the picture and I'm certainly never going to trade in who I am for anything.
According to the research at Hebrew University, there is approximately 14 million Jews on the planet. Which amounts to about 0.2% of mankind! The fact that my Gentile mother fell in love, married and had two sons with my Jewish father is absolutely incredible to me. This, even after both of them suffered the pain and anguish of divorce from previous marriages. Talk about overcoming some serious adversity in this world; they are an amazingly beautiful couple. They are the first to tell you that relationships can't always be 50/50; life happens and that can bring you down sometimes. They willingly communicate and prove their love by inspiring, motivating and supporting each other in their own personal quests. Also, they always make time for an adventure together. Just the two of them. I don't use the word cute a lot, but they really are the cutest. They may never read this, but I love the example they set for the world.
|This where all of my good looks come from, right here!|
Now I only used 2 out of 30 pictures from that article because they hit closest to home for me. They reminded me of who I am, where I come from and the infinite possibilities of my future. There are some photos in that article so incredible, you will literally lose your breath. They will conjure some of the most intense thoughts and emotions of your human spirit. They portray fatherhood, famine, appreciation, genocide, love, devastation, relief, commitment, compassion, happiness and tragedy (among other things.). This article was not for the faint-hearted. Personally, for me, it made my heart grow bigger. Anyone out there who does read that article and cannot put themselves in these peoples' shoes; this is what I have to say to you...
Those who typically lack empathy suffer from the woes of jealousy and envy. You spend your lives turning supposed loved ones into puppets for your own benefit. You are master manipulators, selfish with your emotions and have no regard for the people who move mountains for you. It's people like you that contribute to our decay. It's people like you that are responsible for a lot of the darkness we see in this world. It's people like you that force tragedies on others. It's people like you that make me glad to be me.
|I'm just trying to speak up for my fellow half-Jews out there!|
Being half-Jewish may have hindered me with others at times, but has genuinely taught me about appreciating love in itself. I certainly would not be here without it. Thanks Mom and Dad! The closet anti-Semites of the world used to hurt my feelings, but now are completely laughable. They can't be themselves because they can't stand themselves, it's hilarious. No matter what anyone wants to argue with me, I hold my heritage close to my heart. The Jewish people have thrived among adversity and fought against oppression for thousands of years. We have done great things for humanity and we love to coexist in this world. Back one of us into a corner though, you better be prepared to get all 14 million of us up your ass. SHALOM!
Scotty J ~ "Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it's probably shit."