Communal Victims

It’s not healthy to suppress emotions and it’s not healthy to recklessly let them loose either. We need to take stock of what is stimulating them and also what is the will to meaning that has been thwarted. What is our passion and our longing and our unheard cry for meaning? How can we make this problem that is causing us to react this way serve us?

When we make this shift from being a victim to value-perception, for starters our emotions will naturally find a balanced and constructive expression.

But it doesn’t end there. It seems to me that in the process, this changed perception also creates a shift from being a victim to being a leader. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between state. As soon as you express your emotions in a clear and balanced way and as soon as you muster up the defiant power and take a stand for what is right, even if it is only in your little circle of influence, and whether this is your intention or not, you take on a leadership role. This is part and parcel of the meaning of personal leadership. Leaders are first and foremost capable of leading themselves and this allows them to be able to lead others.

What got me thinking about this was a small incident. My daughter’s film is in a competition of the Jerusalem International Film Festival for children and youth. When I got on the Cinemateque website to buy a ticket for the screening I noticed that Cinemateque membership for a couple for a year costs the equivalent of about $250. I thought to myself, how do so many people have money for things like this?

Then I recalled a comment a friend once made. She said, “The religious Zionists are the most pitiful group in Israel. The secular don’t pay for religious education. The ultra orthodox are subsidized for their education, and also don’t care so much for culture. The religious Zionists care about religious education and pay a fortune for it, in addition to subsidizing the ultra-orthodox education through their taxes, and they also care about cultural activities, music lessons for their kids and an aesthetic quality of life.” The point is not the truth of the statement but to understand people’s perceptions of reality and how they feel about themselves as a result.

Feeling like a victim is not only something that happens to individuals. It happens to communities.

And just as an individual gets out of his rut of being a victim only by embracing what is and taking the problem up as a challenge to see the potential values he can fulfill in the situation, so a community can do the same. And in the process of perceiving values and neither suppressing nor wildly venting emotions but expressing them clearly and articulating the value that stand behind those emotions, he or she or they will be transformed into leaders.

This is my challenge. Wow!

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