Mind Someone Else’s Business

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, over at Patheos asks: “Is there a middle path we can  steer between a silence imposed by relativism, and a voice that others see as  narrow and strident?”

He begins:

You Jews hate all the rest of us—and I can prove it!” A colleague of mine was quite taken aback by this challenge from an otherwise reasonable young Muslim. Prudently, my colleague simply asked him to explain himself.

“You Jews have been around longer as a religion than the rest of us. You believe you received the word of G-d. So why aren’t you converting the rest of the world? Why would you deny them the gifts of Heaven and eternity, unless you hate them so much that you don’t care about them?”

He concludes:

….. Many of us find it uncomfortable to speak up about important moral and ethical issues because we know we will encounter much pushback on the other side. By doing this, however, we abdicate moral responsibility, and give the impression that what we believe in simply “works for us,” but is not part of a G-d given system of right and wrong. Our own silence empowers the wrong people.

We could have the best of both worlds by using a depersonalized approach to remonstrance and rebuke. First of all, those of us in the Judeo-Christian world need to speak up more in the public forum, especially in general media. We need to convey our positions on moral issues to people outside our communities, not just the captive audiences in our churches and synagogues. We must do more than assert that our positions are moral and just, and develop the arguments with which we can win over the minds of others. Broadcasting reasoned arguments, rather than debating individuals, is a form of rebuke that is depersonalized and non-offensive.

Secondly, we should be more forthcoming to others about our core values. When we try to address front-burner issues like abortion, or end-of-life care, or immigration, we will encounter resistance, whatever side we are on. It might be more prudent to speak about the values behind the key issues of the day, such as the blessing of life itself, the closeness of G-d to Man, imitating G-d through giving. If we can influence people regarding those values, they will express themselves at the proper time in regard to specific issues.

It is certain, however, that silence is not an option. If we believe in Divinely defined right and wrong and we are not indifferent to other people, then much of the business of others has to be our business as well. Read the bits in between here.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Church and the Public Square, Truth and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mind Someone Else’s Business

  1. LeAnn says:

    there is a funny skit in the sitcom Seinfeld. Elaine is in a relationship with Puddy, and they get into an argument because Puddy is a cafeteria Catholic. He has his radio preset stations all on Christian music. Elaine changes all of them to test if he really listens to Christian music. When she makes a comment about the Jesus fish on someone’s car, he turns and says “You changed my radio buttons” and she turns around and holds her fingers up as devil ears and wags her tongue. Then later she admits she is hurt because if he really loves her, he should be trying to “save” her. He replies, “I’m not the one going to hell.”
    How many of us are like that? Don’t even try to get our friends to go to church?


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