As a parent, grandparent, and psychologist, I am often considered to be something of an expert on parenting and child-rearing. In that capacity, I have frequently been asked to review or give an opinion about any of the plethora of books on the subject of raising one's children.
Every so often, I come across a sentence of another person’s writing which expresses one of my own thoughts in a language far superior to my own. Over the years, I have contemplated and written about the concepts of “honesty” and “integrity” and the difference between the two.
Earlier this week, in an attempt to gain some space in my crowded apartment, I was going through some old records and discarding many of them. Uncertain about whether or not to keep some of them, I found myself guided by my mother-in-law’s advice: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
The Jewish community in the United States of America is pleased and proud to live in a democracy. What is a democracy? It is often described as a society in which all are equal. But this description falls short of the mark. Because obviously we all are not equal. Some of us are stronger, some wiser, some wealthier, than others. We are not equally endowed with talents at birth, nor do we all partake in equal sets of circumstances as we grow and develop.
One of the worst experiences imaginable is betrayal. The shocking discovery that someone who has been a trusted friend or lover has turned against the person who trusted him is an unspeakable horror. Learning that one's downfall is directly attributable to the very person whom one was counting on for success is overwhelming and nearly impossible to accept.
I no longer remember which Israeli artist colony I was visiting. Perhaps Jaffa. But I will never forget the crude, almost primitive paintings, which were on exhibit. They were all very different in color, style, and size. They varied from somber dark browns and grays to tropical oranges, reds, and yellows. Some were very realistic, some impressionistic, some totally abstract. One was a large mural. But in the corner, there were postcard-sized miniatures. In every painting, a candle predominated.
One of the interesting paradoxes of human life is our tendency to copy one another and to try to “fit in" with friends and acquaintances, while simultaneously trying to be distinct from others, and to be our “own person."