June 18, 2013
It’s often debated whether things are really getting worse in our world, or whether the media is just covering more. We now get to hear about everything bad that happens, whereas previous generations might not have been exposed to violence and acts of ill-will taking place around the world. It’s a truism that good news doesn’t sell papers.
I thought of this idea earlier this week when a member of our community brought me an article about a group of Muslim clerics from eight different countries who visited Auschwitz and paid tribute to Holocaust victims this past week. The quotes from the Imams are powerful to read. Mohamed Magid, who is the president of the Islamic Society of North America, reflected: “What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination. This is the building, the bricks…how many cries and screams they have heard.” The entire group released a statement afterwards that addresses, in part, the issue of Holocaust denials: “We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, where millions upon millions of human souls perished, more than half of whom were people of the Jewish faith…it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and we declare any such denials or any justification of this tragedy to be against the Islamic code of ethics.”
I bring this up as I think it is important to read positive news accounts such as these. Could we go out and find articles by inflammatory and anti-Semitic imams? Sure. And what is described in those articles is worth being warned about, too. But there are other ways forward, and when we read something uplifting, that shows different perspectives, we get shaken out of our trenchant pessimism.
In this so-called age of information, it is so easy to be overwhelmed and numbed by all the news we take in. We should be informed and not stick our heads in the sand. But we should never get to a point where we can’t stop when we hear a hopeful story and say, “Amen” to it, and say, “May there be more like it.” HaTikva is the Israeli national anthem. “The Hope.” And its been said that holding hope is the 11th commandment. In this season of bar and bat mitzvah celebrations, this feels especially important to be reminded of.