Violence stops with me #
There was a facebook campaign last week called #violencestopswithme which had me thinking about where violence starts and where it leads.
A number of months ago, I was in a settlement for shabbat. I went to synagogue and joined in the prayers, from the side of the mechitza. I was not feeling connected to the prayers, but trying hard to open up and feel something.
As I often do, I looked over at the chazzan to see what the man leading the service was doing and how he was praying. I could see him clearly and I starkly observed one detail of his appearance. He had a revolver in his back belt strap.
I looked at the man, who we call a shaliach tzibur, in a spiritual endevour of prayer, holding a rifle - a symbol of violence. While it may be justifiable for a settler to guard the community and to carry a weapon for self-defense, it was my sense that one should not simultaneously hold weapons and pray to God. The God I believe in is one of compassion and kindness; one that mourns the very existence of violence on his planet.
The fact that this chazzan was praying and that the community seemed to think of this event as normal, scared me at my core. When guns and violence become an everyday thing, when a religious deed can be done with a weapon on hand - someone must ask, where does this lead? How can we support this message? How can we raise our children in a world of justified aggression?
At this very challenging moment in Israel, I think it is important that we ask ourselves where does violence exist within ourselves and within our society.