Day 33: Elevator

So I’m in the elevator this morning and I meet one of my neighbors, who asks me, “Would you like a box of cereal? I have an extra one.” I look at the box and think, “Hmm Shredded Wheat… not something I’m jumping for but ok, I’ll give it a shot.” I tell her, “I’m trying to let myself receive everything the universe offers me” and she says, “You should always receive, it’s good for you,” then adds “would you like a piece of chocolate cake?” Yum! now chocolate cake is something I can easily receive but then she hands me the cake…Yuck! German chocolate cake. I kindly tell her I don’t like German chocolate cake and hand it back to her. “You don’t like Germans? Audis? Mercedes?”… She says. “Hmm, I’m working on it,” I say “but really I just don’t like coconut.”

But she’s right. I do have a problem with Germans but the problem is not them, it’s me. I have 2 step-children who are German, a few German friends, and I’ve been to the country many times, but each time I go I feel afraid. Afraid because I have grown up Jewish and I fear what people are thinking of me when I go there. But it isn’t just there that I feel it. In the US, I’m afraid to go to the south. I have some crazy underlying fear that I’m going to be lynched for being Jewish. OK, once when I was 11 a kid did try to strangle me because I was Jewish, and I’ve have had people call me mean and horrible names, but why should I care? It’s only a name unless I believe it to be true.

In truth I did believe it was true. The other day I wrote a whole blog about how I wasn’t perfect and how I should be hung for it. As a kid I hated being Jewish. I felt different and picked on, and I desperately wanted to be christian because I thought then I would be accepted. But even if I had been Christian growing up, I would have been picked on for some other reason, and my self hate would have found another focus. You must first learn to love yourself, everything about you is beautiful.

I think to myself, What a gift this German chocolate cake really was today! Yes, for bringing me face to face with my inner racist, who is afraid in Germany because she’s Jewish, and doesn’t like herself because she’s Jewish! Oy Vey, it’s ironic. And really it has nothing to do with being Jewish but being uncomfortable with being different. However, the recent tragic killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have brought these very issues to the forefront of everyones attention. Some see this as a black and white issue, but I see it in terms of the far deeper issue of the whole world not seeing their true beauty. In our DNA we are 99% the same. It is only in the 1% where we differ. Yet most conflicts in the world are fueled by discrimination over race, ethnicity, religion, political ideology, class, gender etc. That 1% is the part that makes us special and we should honor that not try and get rid of it.

My husband, who is from Ireland, and I were enraged when we heard the verdict about Eric Garner. We felt overwhelmed with anger and sadness. My husband said, “You see, America is so racist.” I felt defensive at first, then took a deep breath and came into my heart, and thought about it. It’s not just America, the whole world is racist. Racism is simply our own deep self-hatred projected onto someone else. It comes from a place of fear and lack of wisdom. In putting someone else down, we (momentarily) feel superior, but it is only a distraction to help us shove down our own pain.

I lived in Ireland around the time that the sex abuse scandals about the Catholic church were coming out. I was enraged that people had stood idly by and let this happen to their children. I owned a children’s clothing shop at the time and put a huge sign in the window which read, “The Nazis were brought to justice, why not the Catholic church?” This did not go over well. My landlord’s lawyers called and demanded I take it down. To this day not a single priest has been taken to court. Why? – Because the problem goes deeper.

I know in my heart that the only solution is love. When we are truly loving ourselves, when we know how beautiful we are, then we truly see the beauty in others.

My friend Myrna came over last night and taught me and my kids how to make fried plantains. Myrna was born in Puerto Rico and has lived here most of her life. She has been my dear friend for 26 years and when I go to her house for celebrations I am so grateful to be able to share in the richness of another person’s culture. It is this love and fascination for other cultures that has driven me to travel the world, and part of the reason that I love living in New York, the melting pot of the world.

The most powerful contribution I can make to healing the rift in our society, is to heal the part of myself, which is the part of the officer that made him kill another person, because killing someone else is killing our own self, and taking away the light that we all need.

That is what I have been concentrating on for the last 33 days, and yesterday a beautiful miracle happened. My husband calls me over and says, “I have something I need to share with you. You’re not going to like it. I have realized what a chauvanist I am. I can see now that I have never actually taken women seriously, that I’ve seen women as sex objects and have always been reluctant to engage with women on an intellectual level.” “Wow, that’s so beautiful!” I said. “Only you would respond that way,” he replied. The beauty I see in his admission is freedom. It takes a brave person to acknowledge their own self-hate. He grew up with an alcoholic father who sat in front of a TV most of his life, while his mother took care of everything. His father’s attitudes towards women were a product of what he had learned and how he felt about himself. My husband held onto those beliefs and values to cover up his own insecurities. When we are not loving ourselves we project our fears onto those we see as less powerful than ourselves, in order to cover up our pain.

Now that my husband has seen this, it changes everything. He has changed the lives of his children and millions of people just by letting go of the beliefs that hold us back.

with love

Oskar

4 don’t like German chocolate cake and hand it back to her. “You don’t like Germans? Audis? Mercedes?”… She says. “Hmm, I’m working on it,” I say “but really I just don’t like coconut.”

But she’s right. I do have a problem with Germans but the problem is not them, it’s me. I have 2 step-children who are German, a few German friends, and I’ve been to the country many times, but each time I go I feel afraid. Afraid because I have grown up Jewish and I fear what people are thinking of me when I go there. But it isn’t just there that I feel it. In the US, I’m afraid to go to the south. I have some crazy underlying fear that I’m going to be lynched for being Jewish. OK, once when I was 11 a kid did try to strangle me because I was Jewish, and I’ve have had people call me mean and horrible names, but why should I care? It’s only a name unless I believe it to be true.

In truth I did believe it was true. The other day I wrote a whole blog about how I wasn’t perfect and how I should be hung for it. As a kid I hated being Jewish. I felt different and picked on, and I desperately wanted to be christian because I thought then I would be accepted. But even if I had been Christian growing up, I would have been picked on for some other reason, and my self hate would have found another focus. You must first learn to love yourself, everything about you is beautiful.

I think to myself, What a gift this German chocolate cake really was today! Yes, for bringing me face to face with my inner racist, who is afraid in Germany because she’s Jewish, and doesn’t like herself because she’s Jewish! Oy Vey, it’s ironic. And really it has nothing to do with being Jewish but being uncomfortable with being different. However, the recent tragic killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have brought these very issues to the forefront of everyones attention. Some see this as a black and white issue, but I see it in terms of the far deeper issue of the whole world not seeing their true beauty. In our DNA we are 99% the same. It is only in the 1% where we differ. Yet most conflicts in the world are fueled by discrimination over race, ethnicity, religion, political ideology, class, gender etc. That 1% is the part that makes us special and we should honor that not try and get rid of it.

My husband, who is from Ireland, and I were enraged when we heard the verdict about Eric Garner. We felt overwhelmed with anger and sadness. My husband said, “You see, America is so racist.” I felt defensive at first, then took a deep breath and came into my heart, and thought about it. It’s not just America, the whole world is racist. Racism is simply our own deep self-hatred projected onto someone else. It comes from a place of fear and lack of wisdom. In putting someone else down, we (momentarily) feel superior, but it is only a distraction to help us shove down our own pain.

I lived in Ireland around the time that the sex abuse scandals about the Catholic church were coming out. I was enraged that people had stood idly by and let this happen to their children. I owned a children’s clothing shop at the time and put a huge sign in the window which read, “The Nazis were brought to justice, why not the Catholic church?” This did not go over well. My landlord’s lawyers called and demanded I take it down. To this day not a single priest has been taken to court. Why? – Because the problem goes deeper.

I know in my heart that the only solution is love. When we are truly loving ourselves, when we know how beautiful we are, then we truly see the beauty in others.

My friend Myrna came over last night and taught me and my kids how to make fried plantains. Myrna was born in Puerto Rico and has lived here most of her life. She has been my dear friend for 26 years and when I go to her house for celebrations I am so grateful to be able to share in the richness of another person’s culture. It is this love and fascination for other cultures that has driven me to travel the world, and part of the reason that I love living in New York, the melting pot of the world.

The most powerful contribution I can make to healing the rift in our society, is to heal the part of myself, which is the part of the officer that made him kill another person, because killing someone else is killing our own self, and taking away the light that we all need.

That is what I have been concentrating on for the last 33 days, and yesterday a beautiful miracle happened. My husband calls me over and says, “I have something I need to share with you. You’re not going to like it. I have realized what a chauvanist I am. I can see now that I have never actually taken women seriously, that I’ve seen women as sex objects and have always been reluctant to engage with women on an intellectual level.” “Wow, that’s so beautiful!” I said. “Only you would respond that way,” he replied. The beauty I see in his admission is freedom. It takes a brave person to acknowledge their own self-hate. He grew up with an alcoholic father who sat in front of a TV most of his life, while his mother took care of everything. His father’s attitudes towards women were a product of what he had learned and how he felt about himself. My husband held onto those beliefs and values to cover up his own insecurities. When we are not loving ourselves we project our fears onto those we see as less powerful than ourselves, in order to cover up our pain.

Now that my husband has seen this, it changes everything. He has changed the lives of his children and millions of people just by letting go of the beliefs that hold us back.

with love

Oskar

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