Friday, November 16, 2007

Are Apologies Ever Really Enough?

I hurt a friend today.

Well, yesterday really, but I didn't read my email and find out until today.

She had innocently sent out a mass email about a local school's project selling wreaths and evergreen swags, telling people that if they wanted to place an order but didn't have a child in the school system, that they could put her son down on the form and then pick up their order at her home.

I don't know what it is about Christmas that makes me cranky. I'm Jewish, and it's not that I resent Christians their holiday. It's just the way Christmas is so pervasive anywhere I go in public (other than synagogue), and it starts earlier every year.

So, without thinking, I emailed back to my friend a little rant about how I felt that public schools should not be promoting Christmas items as a fundraiser, and that if I had a child in the school system, I would seriously be considering sending a letter to the school board in protest.

I guess I didn't really read her email very closely because I didn't notice that the program doing the sale was the community transition program in the school district. The program is for kids with disabilities who are 18-21, and it tries to simulate and create work opportunities through the greenhouse. And it's certainly true that greenhouses trying to succeed as a business are going to sell things like wreaths and evergreen swags at Christmas time.

I just thought it was a fundraiser for the school district. And I feel strongly that even though there are many people who claim Christmas is a secular holiday in this country, it really isn't, and part of the separation of church and state in the Constitution means the celebration of Christmas doesn't belong in public schools.

Yes, the pagans had winter solstice festivals during what's now the Christmas season long before Jesus was born, but the widespread celebration of the holiday is based in the Christian religion.

Anyway, I thought my friend would understand that it was just my usual anti-Christmas rant, and I made a little joke about just calling me the Grinch, and thought that was that.

But this is a program that her son and his peers participate in, something I would have realized if I'd read her email closer instead of just wondering what the CTC on the flyer referred to. And those kids deserve any support they can get.

I wasn't serious about my threat to write a letter to the school board. I didn't even realize it was a threat. But my friend knows how little support her son and his peers get from the school system, and she saw it as a threat that would cut funding from one of the few programs that her son and his peers really benefit from.

I've already told her, in email and in voicemail, how sorry I am. She has already apologized for the angry email she sent yesterday immediately after reading my response to the wreath order form.

But as a wise man I saw on Oprah said that it wasn't enough to admit a mistake and apologize for it. To really show you want to overcome the hurt you inflicted on a person, you need to ask how you can make it right, and do what the hurt person requests. I hope my friend will give me the opportunity to make things right.

And it's a good lesson for me about learning tolerance and not being so quick to condemn programs like this one when I don't know the details.

Although I grew up in a very Jewish area where our public schools closed for Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I now live in a city with far fewer Jews. And I'm in an interfaith marriage, trying to raise our little girl with Jewish traditions. I've got a lot to learn.

I'm not sure how I'm going to make things right to my friend, but I hope she is willing to help me find a way.


Isa das said...

Muslim Hindu Christian Jewish Peace Plan
By William Glick

The desire to bring peace to the world is most likely the inner
mood of most of us today. To-do that we need to come to a
common understanding of religious terminology and beliefs.

For example most of us have no idea that the name Allah comes
from the Hebrew letter Alef, our A, in the English alphabet.
This simple point contains enough information for every
Christian, Jew and Hindu to accept Allah as a name of God.

I will explain further, in the "Old Testament" which Jewish
people call the 5 books of Moses, God explains that He is the
beginning to the end. This same idea is expressed in the New
Testament. Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. This
English usage of Alpha is based on the Hebrew Alef. Also in
the Hindu (Vedic) scripture, Bagavad Gita, Krishna says "of
letters I am A."

Has God sent so many messengers each with a different
message? Is He sitting in the Garden of Eden laughing at us?
I think not! We have twisted His message based on our own
material desire, creating our own Hell on Earth.

The objection we find from our Muslim brothers today comes
from the desire to bring the world back to God and His ways.
We find this mood in our Jewish-Christian tradition also.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

This lack of discipline, this foolish rush of insane
materialism is what every deeply religious person objects to,
no matter which faith he or she is coming from. We can take
good example from our Amish brothers and Hindu (Vedic) sages.

An error of modern society and religion is to identify the
body as the self. The Bhagavad-Gita clearly explains that we
should see and accept the spiritual essence (the soul) of
each living being as spiritually equal. There it is said,
"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with
equal vision a learned and gentle Brahman, a cow, an
elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcast]."
[Bagavad Gita 5.18]

How does the learned sage see every living entity with equal
vision? He sees the spirit soul within the heart of each of
God's creations. He understands that although living forms
may appear different, those appearances are only the external
coverings of the soul, and that spiritually we are all equal.

A careful analysis shows that all problems result from our
first mistake of identifying the body as the self. If we
identify ourselves by race, religion and ethnic group we will
then suffer or enjoy the results of that identity, but the
fact is we are spiritually equal and the bodily identity that
we accept is both temporary and insignificant compared to our
eternal spiritual identity. We suffer due to birth, disease,
old age and death; we need not identify with the body, which
is being afflicted by these difficulties.

If everyone understood and acted on the level of the soul
rather than the body, the world's problems would practically
cease. Understanding the difference between matter and
spirit, and that God is the controller of all things, is the
essence of knowledge.

It is natural that when we become overwhelmed by
difficulties, we become aware of our dependence on God.
Unfortunately, due to our deep attachment to materialism, we
are drawn to perceive religion in much the same manner, as we
perceive ordinary social activities. That is, we become
attached to identifying with the external or social side of
religion, while we forget its essence-loving service to God.

Our modern use of the word religion, expresses an external
alterable faith, while the Sanskrit word dharma, implies an
internal or essential eternal relationship with God. Our
religion or faith can change but the soul's relationship with
God is eternal. For example, I may claim that I am a
Christian today, but I may adopt the practices of a Hindu or
of a Jew tomorrow. However, whatever faith you my follow, the
essence of that faith is loving service to God.

We must understand that our Muslim brothers and sisters who
have come to understand the true message of Allah accept all
of us as children of God based on this verse from the Koran.
2.62: Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and
the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah
and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward
from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall
they grieve.

We should also understand that as a nation, nay as a human
race if we do not come to follow God's laws and develop our
love for Him and His creation, our future is all too clear.

For Our Lord says: Isaiah 46: I make known the end from the
beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say:
My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

Thank You and God's Blessings
William Glick

Joan said...

Seeking forgiveness is plenty if the person you seek it from is ready to reciprocate. In this instance, it is fine.

Even with when forgiveness is reciprocal, though, there are lessons to learn.

Hopefully, enough time and grace allows for the correct lesson to blossom for each situation. By this, I mean that it takes time to decide the true lesson to each situation. For me, it is the importance of tolerance, inclusion, and remember that we are all doing the best we can in this life. As my son becomes an adult and the discrimination and disparity in his life becomes more blatant and acceptable by others not his family, it becomes more difficult to be gracious. But it is the lesson I must learn, especially with those we care about. The real trick, is working it through without creating a bigger problem....

Anonymous said...

oops - and I should have added, that you are, of course, considered family.

I know you accept our boys for who they are and want good things for them. And I know that that much of what I talk about is societal and, though better, still pervasive when it comes to the acceptability of discrimination against folks who are intellectually disabled. That's not hte point.

The point is that good people with good intentions sometimes push each others' buttons when without thinking. The true measure of the quality of friendship is the days, weeks, and months following absolution.