Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

The Fifth Question

with 2 comments

Over the last two days we gathered around the family table for the Passover Seder, the meal where the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is retold each year. One role for the children present is to ask the four questions at the appropriate time during the Seder. The questions revolve around why this meal, this Seder, is different from the other meals typically eaten during the rest of the year. And around those differences the story of Passover is told.

This year I added a fifth question for the family present. “Do we live in evil times”? To me, emotionally, this year feels like the spring flowers will curl up, turn black and shrivel, that the grass will stay brown, the blue sky will stay obscured by clouds, that the trees will remain bare. In addition to the darkness settling over the land, I expect cattle to perish, locusts to decimate crops, waters to run red, boils, disease, hail and death. Yes, I have a nagging feeling that we can all expect various plagues to continue, at least for the short term. What brings me to this state of pessimism?

The United States has seemingly, willingly, thrown away its somewhat exceptionalism role. We have thrown away our morality, our leadership, our values, aspirational as they were, but at least the aspirations were there. The aspirations of our current federal leaders include greed, corruption, abuse, racism and worse, all of which can only be achieved by denigrating the pillars of society that has made our country great, science, a free press, a fair judiciary, and a congress with actual oversite powers. Corruption, fiscal abuse, nepotism, blatant racism, intimidation of the most vulnerable among us, the thirst for power at any cost now run rampant. As a country we have embraced the worst fears, the worst instincts of tribal, primitive mankind.

ICE, it is now hard to imagine them as anything more than thugs, grabs people off the streets, separating mothers and fathers from their children and dumps them without money, without identification, without a method of communication and without due process in foreign lands.  Who is attracted to work like this? Here is a passage about one person who was so treated with the name altered. “…attorney worked very hard to file all the necessary papers and reach out to the ICE officer to make a case for a stay of XYZ’s deportation. The officer took a few days to get back to the attorney and before the process was complete, ICE had already approved his removal from the country.” “XYZ was not allowed to gather his belongings, to say goodbye to his family, to make a phone call to them and the family was not notified by ICE that this would be happening. The only way they knew was because the attorney called the ICE officer who said that XYZ was already in transit to Mexico. Last night they received a call from XYZ for the first time since he left New York. ICE brought him over the border into Mexico and left him. XYZ has no ID, no cell phone, no bank cards and no money. When I spoke to XYZ’s child last night he was not sure how his father was going to get to the village he is originally from.” This person has worked as a janitor for the last 20 years, putting two American children through college. He has paid all of his taxes and has had a clean record. What ever happened to only going after bad people? Another lie.

The EPA, the agency that is supposed to protect our environment, to protect our health has now officially sworn off science. After all who would want to know if a chemical is carcinogenic, before you decide if it needs regulation. Clean air emissions are about to be loosened as are standards for cars. Not to mention that the head of the EPA and his daughter accept a very fancy apartment in a tony part of Washington for $50 per night from an energy industry lobbyist.  Corruption and greed is rampant, ignorance is celebrated.

The interior department is destroying our national monuments, our national parks, our heritage for the sake of mining companies and for drilling opportunities. The head of the interior department has sworn off of diversity, after all his logic goes, just hire the best and diversity will take care of itself, expect that it never has. Just today an opponent of the endangered species act has been given oversite of that very act. That is like having war mongers running the State Department – wait, that is happening as well.

The education department is pushing for vouchers in a plan that completely flies in the face of what the founding fathers wanted public education to be. Public education that they knew was critical to the long-term success of our democracy. Benjamin Franklin is turning over in his grave.

The list can go on and on. In fact, you can barely go one day without some sort of scandal cropping up with this administration.  Russia attacking our democracy, Saudi princes with undue influence and claiming that senior administration officials are in their pocket (officials who only got their positions through nepotism rather than any kind of ability), collusion, corruption, threats, intimidation, money laundering, the NRA accepting foreign money aimed at determining the outcomes of our elections (a criminal offense), organized crime, lies, propaganda, voter suppression, gerrymandering, the attempt to silence those whose job it is to speak up, it is impossible to keep up with the growing and expanding list, and it feels like the plagues of Passover are raining down on our heads.

The insanity that has gripped our nation is not limited to our shores. It is impacting many other countries. For instance, it now seems that Brexit, which will separate Britain from the EU and weaken Europe was also influenced by Russia. After all, with a weakened USA, where we are at each other’s throats, and a weakened EU who is left to stand in the way of Russia putting the USSR back together? Of course, many of the countries that were part of the USSR have no interest in returning to that system of repression and tyranny – but Vladimir has other ideas.

ENOUGH!

And along come some children. Children who saw 17 of their classmates killed by a semi-automatic weapon which is very similar in design to one designed for the battlefield. Designed for use by the military. A weapon whose only design impetrative was to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. These children, like the children of Passover are asking questions. Their first question seems to be “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” And like the children of Passover, when the answer is not satisfactory for them they continue to ask questions, even as those questions become uncomfortable for those used to “tradition”. The reason the children at Passover are the ones to ask the questions, is because they are the ones that will create the future, the children are the ones that will determine whether Judaism will survive for another generation, just as the children of America will ultimately determine whether our democracy survives as well. Impeachment may or may not happen. Prison sentences may or may not be handed out. It is the children and their questions that ultimately matter the most. The questions must be asked. The questions must be answered to the satisfaction of the next generation.

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

April 1, 2018 at 9:02 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. On Target. You are 100% correct and it will get a lot worse before it gets better. The youngsters are being denigrated and abused by those who who are rewarded by the harm that is perpetuated on us.

    Walter Reichamn

    April 2, 2018 at 12:44 am

  2. As always Jeff, well said!

    Jack Brayton

    >

    jack3660

    April 2, 2018 at 4:27 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: