I‘m an optimist. I resist the “half-empty” glass. I look for the best in others. At times, I suffer the consequences, but seeing the good helps me to feel better and remain upbeat even in times of hardship and crisis. As a manager of people, I’ve found that it’s far more effective to encourage others’ sparks of creativity and goodness, intelligence and decency than to be overly critical and negative.
I’m well aware, of course, that everyone errs, uses bad judgment, succumbs to ego, appears foolish, behaves destructively, and gives license to their darker angels. But I stay hopeful anyway as a necessary hedge against despair.
The most effective means to counter one’s own demoralization and to help others do the same, especially as the election cycle has concluded and a new administration is about to begin, is to become more engaged in social justice advocacy work than we ever have been before, that we might help to prevent a deterioration in our democracy and our compassionate society.
There are so many just causes and just organizations as well as just officials at the local, state and federal levels who share our vision and democratic pluralist values with whom we can align.
Most especially, we Jews have no choice but to act as Jews and be ready to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and the shrinking middle class, and to stand united against efforts to eviscerate the social safety net.
We have to push hard on behalf of the welfare of the 42 million food insecure Americans who have no idea when or from where their next meal will come.
We have to support women’s rights to equal pay for equal work, and their right to choose, as well as the equal marriage rights of the LGBTQ community.
We have to stand up for the environment, for science, for technological advance, for higher education for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, for critical thinking, and for fact-based truth.
We have to protect immigrants, peoples of color, and strangers, and to challenge those who claim that any human being is “illegal.”
The pendulum swings both ways and we can’t forget the ancient words of the Biblical prophet that called for justice, compassion and humility before God.
We have to remember Dr. King’s words that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
That is the message of hope. The optimist in me dies hard. I hope that it dies hard in you too!
Rabbi John L. Rosove serves Temple Israel of Hollywood of Los Angeles, CA.