July Fourth: Rage and Righteousness

Last July 4th I hung an American flag on my front porch.

I did this to raise up what I love about this country

And call forth all I long for it to be.

When my son came home and expressed surprise at seeing the flag,

My intention to speak of the goodness and hope it could represent

Quickly turned into a tirade about the horrors of the current administration,

The devastation being wrought upon our democracy,

And ended with a vigorous assertion that this is my country.

In response, my son shook his head and said, Mom,

This is OUR country. This country belongs to all of us.

With that, he left me on the porch with the flag and my raging self-righteousness.

What to do with the anger, frustration and despair I feel about the state of our country?

What to do with the sense that I know what is right and am sure about what should be?

This week’s Torah portion, Korach, speaks about rebellion and leadership and asks us to examine the intentions behind our words and actions.

It cautions us about self-righteousness and the hatred, division and damage it can cause.

The Torah portion doesn’t provide easy answers for what to do about the injustices that tear at our souls, but it does remind us that we won’t figure this out alone.

Seek guidance and support from each other, it urges.

Ask for help from the Life Force that flows through all.

Listen to the truths the earth is telling.

Let these practices help us see beyond our righteousness and rage

And discover how best to engage in effective and mindful speech and action.

I didn’t put up the American flag again this year.

I just couldn’t see past my anger and sadness.

And still, I love this country.

I give thanks for its astounding beauty and the richness of its cultures.

I pray for our freedom and democracy and for who we might still become.

In the words of the Children of Korach who learned humility and harmony from deep within the earth, I pray:

May Love and Truth meet.

May Peace and Justice embrace.

May Truth spring forth from the earth,

And may justice look down from the heavens.
(Psalm 85:11-12)

Love and Blessings to all.

Rabbi Yael Levy
1 Tammuz 5779