It has been a distressing week in the news—more than the usual. Between the tariffs/trade wars with China, the growing tensions between the US and Iran, and the most recent passage of the strictest reproductive rights legislation since before Roe v. Wade, there is a lot about which we should be concerned—no matter our political leanings.
Often, I feel like there are forces at work in the world much larger than I, and I wonder what power I have to influence these processes for good. Frequently, we sense that there is not a whole lot that we can do. As we say in modern parlance, “it is what it is.”
Of course, “it is what it is,” is not really a Jewish value. Our tradition has never taught us to just accept things the way they are—not even the very teachings of the Torah. Everything is up for interpretation, and it is possible to come up with more than one way of looking at a problem and its possible solutions. In contrast, to “it is what it is,” Judaism’s focus has been more on looking at “what is” and imagining how to make it “what ought to be.” This is why we have such a fine tradition of kvetching (complaining); it is not just kvetching for its own sake, but rather to stir us to action. We cannot just sit and stew about the state of our community, our nation, or our world. We must find ways—big and small—to make God’s creation closer to the image that the Divine intended.
What can we do—as individuals and as a community—to make a world filled with peace, justice, prosperity and love? I don’t know for sure, but surrendering to hopelessness is certainly not the solution.