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Hanging Out at the Margins



It is Wednesday, June 12th at 8:05 am Pacific time.

I want to just think about what it is to be a good diaspora Jew because I'm really confused about that. We have a number of criteria it seems. So what is a good Jew? What does it mean to be a good diaspora Jew? By that I mean a Jew who does not live in Israel.

So where does one's loyalties lie in order to be approved as a good Jew? Is it to God? Is it to one's family? Is it to one's community? Is it to Israel, Israeli politics? Is it to one's own country? Where does one's loyalties lie in order to be approved as a good Jew? I'm a bit confused because, if say you are a Jewish person who like was born and raised in Canada.

Are you expected to be loyal to the state of Israel? Because then what about being a Canadian? And at some point when you're talking about your nationality, dual nationality is a bit problematic. And what if you are somebody who has come into Judaism that you weren't born into it, but you converted? You already have a nationality, you already have an ethnicity. So by adopting a religion, by adopting, learning to become a Jew and adopting that as your, your faith identity or membership, I don't understand how you would have adopted a new nationality. And I don't know, I don't really get it.

My dad was a Hindu from Guyana because they [Indo-Guyanese] were indentured. And, there's like a big Hindu community in Canada. And we, we don't all come from the same places. And it's a placeless way to practice your life. There was no like claim to, you know, India or anything like that. I mean, if I wanted to, I probably couldn't become a citizen of India because that genetic attachment or that inheritance attachment is broken. I don't know that that means that I'm any less attached to all of the legacy of that. My dad was never a practicing Hindu, but he was very clearly influenced by being raised in a practicing Hindu household. And he was free to live his life. When he lived at home, he didn't practice the dietary restrictions and stuff. But nonetheless, he was very much somebody who was a Hindu, even though he converted to Catholicism and became assimilated into Western French Canadian Catholic world that he settled in. So I don't really understand this whole thing that's happening right now in the Jewish world where there's a war happening across the world and there's this big rupture in society over it. 

And a lot of the people who are tearing their shirts over and losing their shit over it probably have never even been to Israel before. So I think this is really weird. And I also think this is happening on the Muslim side, where they are just, they're obsessed with this, this whole thing. This whole conflict is just taking over everything. And so I don't really understand why Muslims are obsessed with this Zionism and why they're obsessed with this whole geopolitical distortion of religion—of a couple of religions. So, I also don't understand what it means to be a good Muslim because, you know, I tried to live in that community and the reason I had to leave is because it's absolutely unhinged. I mean, it's like, on this one hand, you have these people who are promoting interfaith dialogue and stuff, and then Israel's committing genocide, and well, I’m not arguing about Hamas or the IDF is lying and stuff. Okay, well, all those thoughts are not— they're not compatible. 

You can't really say that you're open-minded and promoting interfaith dialogue and then go around and say, Israel's being a genocidal maniac and then be—take all of the statistics that Hamas and the UN and all of these Islamists have made up. I mean, if you're going to so easily believe the most extreme position of your own community, then I don't really think that you are entirely committed to interfaith dialogue. And that's the disappointing thing, that people are believing the most extreme facts without any question. So how can you say that you are for moderation and for interfaith dialogue when you are believing the most like extreme like made-up, manipulated propaganda? I don't understand how a mind who's says, yes, let's have peace, let's listen to everyone and let's find common ground and let's focus on the things that we agree on, then, is completely unable to see all of the ways that we've been lied to since October the 7th. I mean, from the time that shit hit the ground, already people in the Muslim world were like poised to not believe. Like, poised to not believe: the Jews said it, okay, they're lying. Like, I'm not kidding you. That was like a totally a thing from like the people who were supposed to be the most moderate. So I think that there's some degree of people not being entirely honest with themselves in this interfaith movement. And it is really hard when you are a prominent and attached member of any tribe, it's very hard to go against that tribe. That's one of the reasons I don't get myself into a tribe because I feel often like I'm suffocated and I can't get out. 

And so I like to be at the edges where I can, because and then, and then I see that the readings in the Torah, God is not in the camp. He is like outside the camp. He is in the tent of meeting. You have to go outside of the tribe and all of that stuff in order to find the truth. So you have to go outside of your ego and all of that stuff to see clearly. You know, this is kind of like when you're looking to see Aurora Borealis, you can't pick the most brightly lit part of the city, which is most densely populated. You have to go out into the wilderness where there is no light and where there is very little life happening. Then you can see Aurora Borealis very clearly. So I think it's kind of like that. I think it's kind of like that. I think that there are some things you have to be out in the wilderness in order to fully experience. And the problem with that is we are social creatures and social connection is a biological imperative and we need to belong to the tribe. And so the tribe versus God, but we also need to belong to God. And when we choose the tribe over God and the tribe gets in the way, then we feel the separation. We feel the separation from ourselves. Because, you know, if you choose the external world over your internal world, then you have lost God. You cannot get him if you have chosen the external material world. I really—I think a lot of people miss that that you need to be right with yourself inside yourself with your own battles in order to be able to be in the presence of God and I think that this Torah in the Desert and this whole you know holiday of Shavuot and learning about all that stuff is really really instructive for the Jewish people. 

And, you know, I wish that, you know, Muslims and even Christians could learn about it because when I was a Catholic, you know, we didn't focus on this stuff. We focused on rules. We focused on enforcement. We focused on, you know, strengthening the tribe. And it was all about the tribe. And the tribe was basically, you know, protecting the church, which was the Vatican. And so keeping wrong thinkers out and keeping bad ideas out and stuff, that was more—the focus of the religious experience and life and connection. So, I just I'm curious about what does it mean to be a good Muslim? What does it mean to be a good Jew? What does it mean to be a good person? That's like something that is—every day we should be thinking about that because to be very honest, I don't really see—I see a lot of problems with tribes. And so especially, this whole, Jewish thing, the other day there was a pro-Israeli person on X saying, so, do you think that Palestinians voted for Hamas?

And I was like, well, what do you even mean by that? There's no such thing as free and fair elections in the Islamic world. And for sure, there is not in Gaza. Can you tell me where there was free and fair elections?That seems a bit disingenuous that you would say, and you want that to be, you're asking people that people to agree with you that they chose Hamas because then if you say all of those people chose Hamas then there's no innocent people and then you feel like that's giving you permission to commit a mass slaughter so you know—and then all of a sudden I'm pro Hamas and all of a sudden I don't get it and a bunch of shit like that because like there's no middle ground. There's no nuance, there's no acknowledgement of the fact that Palestinians are also being mistreated by Hamas, by the Arab leadership. And that has always been the case. That is why to a large degree, this problem has been allowed to continue because this is how it started. It started with Arab leadership in the 40s advising their people wrongly. They gambled wrongly, okay? And we're still living in the shadows of that. We're still living in the shadows of shitty elite men who have not faced the fact that the Ottoman Empire fell like over a century ago. Okay, some people still are hoping for a caliphate and for the rise of the Muslim Empire and this time Arabs think that they should be in line to like be running the world. 

Okay, so, I don't know anything. I am just one person trying to find God and asking people what does it mean to be a good member of your tribe? To be a good Muslim seems to mean to focus exclusively on geopolitics, adopt empathy erosion, not care about anything to do with your own local community and basically rate the world according to your very narrow, distorted lens about Zionism and Middle Eastern geopolitics. That's what it seems to me to be a Muslim. The local Muslim community was absolutely oblivious, absolutely had no empathy at all, very, very little true empathy for local issues only in so far as they can get you know points You know heaven points for doing good deeds That's it. I Can't relate to that. Okay, I can't relate to this thing where like a tribe of people is more concerned with things happening over there across the ocean and they have absolutely eroded their empathy and for their own community that sustains them because wherever you live, whatever place you live in, that place and the people that belong to that place are sustaining you. 

And I don't think, especially in the Muslim world, there is enough acknowledgement and gratitude for local communities. I think there's a lot of arrogance. There's a lot of being pejorative and there's a lot of hostility. That's how I felt and that's why I basically just left because I didn't feel welcome. I felt inferior. I felt like the help. I did actually feel like a Dhimmi. I really, really did. That was my experience of Muslim faith community, dominated by arrogance and scapegoating Jews and Europeans. So I think that there is a real dilemma with how people are navigating community versus moral compass. It seems to me that the community needs members to have eroded their own empathy and their own moral compass. And I'd like, I really, I think that's ultimately harmful. And I think that then God isn't there. If you're demanding that people, pay fealty to the tribe, then you are saying that they should cut off their connection to God because your conscience is really, and all that higher level stuff, that's where you're going to find God and so if you're keeping people in the lowest material level where they have to be concerned with power dynamics and things like that then that's like that's not that's not what we're here for. So, like, I just, that's my dilemma with this whole issue of being a person who believes in God and being a person who's trying to find that through religious life. I don't see it. I do see, at the margins. But the most influential locus of every community just always seems to be the same. 

So my question is the same as it was to begin with. What does it mean to be a good Jew? If you are a diaspora Jew who does not live in Israel, who is not Israeli, what does it mean to be a good Jew? Does it mean loyalty to your country? Does it mean loyalty to your family? Does it mean loyalty to your community? Does it mean loyalty to God above all else? Does it mean loyalty to Hasbara and the Israeli political world? What loyalty does a person choose in order to qualify as a good Jew? Because I don't really understand how you could be loyal to one's own country and to Israel at the same time at some point dual nationalism is problematic and then I always come back to the same thing. Why do I need to participate in geopolitics in order to have a relationship with God? Why do I need to participate in the ego masturbation exercise of geopolitics in order to belong to a faith community? That's my question. It's an open question. It's a question for debate. I really don't understand how people who purport to be seeking God and, helping people find God can also be requiring that I take a particular position of loyalty on geopolitical situation. 

So it is 825 on Wednesday June the 12th. Everyone have a great day and if you are celebrating Shavuot then I wish you all the best of whatever you hope to get out of it. I hope that you do and think about everything that I said, because all of these Conversations that I'm having with myself and with other people are part of my journey to try to understand and to try to help other people understand, because I'm wise enough to know that if I have questions, other people probably have those questions too, and maybe they aren't as articulate and brave enough as me to be able to speak them out into the open. So this is only for you to think about and you are free to disagree and move on with your best life. And if it makes sense to you, then that's great. I do plan to be really thinking about this more and talking about this more because I really, really think that this is important. Everyone have a great day. It's your power to choose different course of action to choose to be adventurous and a bit punk and see things from another point of view. So I wish you all the best in whatever you're doing today and this week.

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can religion be a solution to, rather than the cause of, human suffering? a blog and a podcast about dehumanization, spirituality, and religion.