Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Going over to Susan's house
I went to visit Rabbi Susan Silverman today to talk about saving the world. I've been feeling really frustrated with the Institute the past few days (particularly after last week's PELS session), and I wanted to ask her if she's been where I am now. She was really helpful. First she told me, when she was about to graduate (before she even knew she wanted to be a rabbi), she went to Howard Zinn (her mentor), and asked him how to save the world. He replied, "One person at a time." Like the story about the old man throwing starfish back into the ocean. But when she thought about saving the world one person at a time, all she could think was, "THAT SLOW?!" But then she reminded me that being here now is hard work and we're not going to solve the 60 (or 5000) year old conflict in this semester, but we are planting seeds. She put into perspective that our lives are short, so its often impossible to see the scope of how each of us is changing the world, because we just want to see the big picture. She also suggested I re-examine my life, in terms of only having large goals. That I need a dual focus: one for ending genocide, but also one to keep me grounded, like the rabbi thing (focusing on Jewish values and Spirituality, and knowing I'll be able to help individuals, even if I am unsuccessful with the Impossible Dream). And in between both of those, to stop and have tea and cookies with her or go for walks or take a nap or talk to Katharine or whatever else I need to do to clear my mind. Because being a stressball isn't helping anyone. Its in the Torah.