When Friends Rally

This will be a bit messier and less polished than my normal work. It’s timely and a moment is upon us. I may edit or add to this later, but I want to share it now.

It was a curious Christmas Eve. Somewhat out of the blue, an antisemitic leaflet was left outside our house. It referenced a claim that, “Every single aspect of the media is Jewish” and that “6 Jewish corporations own 96% of the media.” Even more curious, in smaller print it also stated that, “These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.”

None of that requires much in the way of interpretation. The flyer was placed in a plastic bag anchored with small pebbles so it could be tossed from a passing car window (my guess) and not blow away. The cowardice of that free speech exercise is apparent.

As a matter of course I reported it to the local police, who informed me that many of these had been distributed in the neighborhood and my home was not singled out. That didn’t make it better, but it did give me reason to believe something more threatening was unlikely to follow. Remember, these are cowards who operate in the shadows. For me, free speech only has gravitas when it has a clear author willing to stand by the expression of their considered thoughts.

None of that is why I write this on Christmas Day. I write this because emerging from that heinous expression of bigotry was a mitzvah, a blessing of goodness. You see, as an author, I have been pounding out these posts for years and years, alongside three published novels, all of which likely add up to a somewhat progressive worldview. You might expect as much from the later generation of an immigrant family that sought freedom, opportunity, and acceptance in this imperfect but still idealistic place called America.

Well, guess what, I have all I wanted. The cowards lost. I won.

Here’s why.

Shortly after I received the ugly missive of antisemitism, I posted a photo of it on social media. You know that old expression, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” It’s true.

I guess I wanted to warn others in my area that bad actors were doing malicious deeds on the seventh day of Hanukkah, which also happened to be Christmas Eve. I also wanted to share outrage with my community, as if to wonder how on such a sacred day that speaks to joy and peace, someone took it upon themselves to exploit that occasion for fear and hate.

I didn’t expect much response. I write a lot and never quite know how it lands. That’s the thing about being on this side of the screen. You compose thoughts, share them, sometimes you get a response, more often than not you don’t hear from people you know. They are busy. They get accustomed to seeing your posts and only occasionally comment.

If you write a lot, you do receive a fair amount of criticism from people you don’t know. Some of it is warranted. Some of it helps me to be a better writer. Sometimes it comes in the same form as the antisemitic leaflet delivered on Christmas Eve. If you offer a public point of view, incoming invective comes with the territory. The worst of it is anonymous, more cowardice, and you become largely immune to it. I had excellent teachers on this topic.

I don’t write for a response. As I’ve said many times, I write to breathe. The written word is air to me. It’s my breathing pattern. Whether you hear me or not, I still need to breathe.

To my surprise on this one, on busy Christmas Eve, you heard me. You responded, full-throated and magnificent. You reminded me that it matters to many of you that I do this, that I type these words, why each breath matters.

Here’s a sample of what you said on social media:

You know, there are many hundreds of us who have your back.

We are standing with you.

Oh no. No no no,

That’s awful, I’m sorry, Please keep safe.

Love to you and your family.

Wishing you much peace and safety.

May your light shine bright this Hanukkah season.

These heartening comments are still coming in and probably will be for a while. That’s because there are shared values we can count on in the circles we travel, and when one of us blows the whistle on malfeasance, our communities rise together in response.

When do we know we have made a difference? When friends rally.

To know there is a community standing in solidarity together is to know that one’s voice is being heard. We are not alone when we are attacked for race, gender, ethnicity, origin, age, preference, or any other identity trait that makes us who we are. We stand on that platform of diversity, acceptance, kindness, and reject all who stand against our freedom to embrace our living history and self-define without ignorant critique.

You heard my voice. I heard yours. You acknowledged me as someone who matters. The cowards drift into irrelevance.

Our community is strong. Our community is ours.

Isn’t that the message of the day, that in this world of constant conflict, the voice of love is the platform we celebrate? Yes, we celebrate the idea of peacethe peace that begins in our hearts, resonates through our community, repels the ignorance that would undermine our shared compassion, and returns to our hearts to rekindle the flame.

We light the menorah to remind us there is light in the world. The candles are iconic, a visual metaphor of commemoration. We are the light when we choose to be, when we empower each other, when we stand by each other, when we commit to build a better day as the reason for the season.

I deeply, profoundly thank you for reminding me what is too easy to forget, that our work is never done. It is best done together when we show each other how much we care.

I believe it’s one part coincidence and one part fate that today is both Christmas and the eighth night of Hanukkah. Whatever you are celebrating, or even if you’re not celebrating but just contemplating the potential for good in our troubled world, I write today to assure you it’s there if you look hard. People will surprise you out of nowhere if you let them.

So let that be.

As I wrote to my social media community: Stay vigilant, teach all who come your way the beauty of diversity, the power of compassion, and the healing strength of love.

_______________

Photo: Pixabay

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The Inaugural: A Modest Proposal

InauguralWord on the street is that entertainment options for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration are sparse, and that President-elect Donald Trump is not at all happy about being snubbed by Hollywood.

My initial thought was that they simply call it “An Intimate Evening with Ted Nugent” and sell off the master sponsorship to the NRA. Chachi could be the MC. Yahoo would probably still overpay for the streaming rights and Trump could declare it sensational. Easy breezy.

Then I got to thinking, if I’m not part of the solution, I am the problem. I probably am the problem and will be for at least the next four years, but that’s beside the point. Better that I be helpful. I want to be helpful to PEOTUS and the incoming administration pasted together from the cast of Doctor Faustus. It should be a celebration of, well, something. The new team should be happy. I want to be there for them. To quote Candidate Trump during the debates (insert condescending tone), “It’s very important to me.”

So here’s my pitch, and this will absolutely help the President-elect save face: I will agree to personally appear at the Inauguration Ceremony, the Inaugural Ball, and the Inaugural Parade — a package deal including all three major events — performing LIVE BAND KARAOKE.

Should the organizing committee wish to run a background check on my credentials, I came in 2nd Place in a Thai restaurant competition outside Sacramento two years ago on New Year’s Eve. Okay, that wasn’t exactly Live Band Karaoke, it was a machine, but I have performed Live Band Karaoke all over the Los Angeles basin in clubs so hip no one even knows they exist. I am eminently qualified, practically a shoe-in. I will be amazing. I will be fantastic. I will be spectacular. I will not be a disaster. I will not let down my nation.

Naturally I have a few conditions:

1) Following the swearing-in, I must get an offer to become the President’s head speech writer at market rate with full Congressional retirement benefits when I am fired. Since there is absolutely nothing I admire about the Trump administration and in fact would like it to be hamstrung or eliminated, I am the perfect candidate. I also have never been a political speech writer, which according to the peer group of appointees makes me even more qualified.

2) My inclusive package multi-event fee of $10 million will be donated and shared among all the homeless within the Washington D.C. region.

3) Kellyanne has to play tambourine in the band and no sitting down will be allowed. On select tracks of my choosing she will play cowbell.

4) Jared will buy me lox and bagels for morning brunch after the celebration and cannot leave the deli until I am done talking to him.

5) Donald absolutely cannot have the mic anytime during my gig.

6) Donald must live tweet after every song I sing that “This Ken Goldstein is a live band karaoke sensation and Kanye should give him a record deal.”

7) Donald’s inaugural remarks may not be longer than any of my songs.

8) Bannon must be on the dance floor the entire night but he must dance alone.

9) Ivanka agrees to hand make three separate designer outfits for my lovely wife to accompany me, subject to my lovely wife’s creative approval. Single-origin natural fabrics grown in the USA, please. An advanced consultation on a diverse color palette is recommended but not required. We have high hopes Ivanka is cut from a different cloth.

10) A bowl of coconut pretzel M&M’s must always be in reaching distance for me when I am performing and Reince must hand them to me with a clean white glove one by one, but I will be a mensch and not require the green ones be extracted.

That is one heck of a deal for a high-profile show in desperate need of a headliner — such a bargain, three shows for the price of one! No need to send Trump Force One for me. I’ll use frequent flier miles and sleep in the lobby of the renovated Old Post Office Hotel (I hear the atrium appointments are quite lush and I wouldn’t want to create a conflict of interest actually booking a room there at taxpayer expense).

This is a one-time offer that expires at midnight on the first night of Hanukkah (Jared can help with the deadline).

Okay, let’s see if a signed deal memo shows up on my desk and PEOTUS knows a real deal when he sees one!

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Quick footnote:  I do not believe coconut pretzel M&M’s currently exist. Those will be a custom order, but that is not my problem. The organizing committee will have to use its manufacturing expertise to secure the necessary innovation. A mixed bowl of coconut M&M’s and pretzel M&M’s does not count.