Saturday, October 23, 2004

In Her Own Words

I get an email weekly from a good friend of mine from LA, and she never ceases to inspire me! I read this one, and, as usual, wanted to share it, and remembered that I have this forum for enjoy!!

Attempting to sound strong, the girl raised her voice slightly. “I realized I was different… and that I wouldn’t find anyone else who thinks like I do, and I got used to being a loner.” She quickly glanced down at her fingernails, pausing a moment too long before she lifted her eyes, “Most people just don’t care to think or talk about life.” She really said that, and she really believes it, and she seemed to me to be near tears as she said it.

And honestly, I was shocked. Not at the statement that most people don’t think seriously about the world we live in and what it means… but that there was sitting here a girl who hadn’t found people who DID care… and that I am so fortunate to be so surrounded by exactly those thinking, feeling people.We don’t realize enough what a blessing it is to live in the communities that we do, to associate with people for whom life has a purpose greater-than-instant-gratification. Every day I live with people for whom discussing social issues, philosophical issues, moral issues is a given. And most people in this world DON’T get that. They live life, take what they’ve been tossed, get juggled by media propaganda and manipulative advertising, subliminal consumerist and flaming liberal messaging, and it doesn’t phase them.

And it made me sad, to wonder what is happening to these potentially brilliant minds… where were their efforts going… why is it the norm to vegetate rather than think.I feel like every week I say this about something else – but it’s true; we’re blessed. We’ve been given a treasure, an invaluable treasure… [this week] the mind. It’s a medium of intellect higher than the animal world. The human mind makes the human person a creature of dignity and purposefulness. If it’s not used – what are we?

So look at the parsha, Lech Licha. In an article at, Rabbi Noson Weisz comments that Avram was different from his society in that he really used the mind that Gd gave him… he wondered about the world, about our existence, about the existence of a Higher Power… and because he gave life thought, he came to a greater realization than those around him. And even more than that, he took his knowledge and his understanding into his heart, which is what gave him the strength to listen to Gd’s word, leave whatever necessary behind… because he respected his own mind, he understood the importance in utilizing that mind, and that his understanding of Gd’s will as ultimate reality was what mattered most.

And he had a wife, a few devoted family members, servants, and a following of believers. And when Gd told him that it was time to go… these are the people that came with him. The people that could also appreciate this realization of Gd, people with whom Avram could discuss and understand the value of life and man’s purpose of goodness in this world. I don’t believe this treasure, our mind, can exist without mutuality of intellectual stimulation. Which is why we’re so lucky. Which is why I feel so bad for the girl in my social psych class who has been left stranded in such a vast, frightening, and false world.

It’s really special to be able to sit at a dinner table at USC and look across at seven other people heatedly debating nuances of human intelligence, and considering what that demands of us.To sit next to someone who himself is in awe of the fact that we get caught into these “crazy conversations every single day.”To feel like I can call my friend and say … I really need a break from this college mumbojumbo … and our break will be an attempt to understand the value of speech. To hear a sophomore in high school say that it makes her happy to see herself taking meaningful steps to bettering her life, to understanding what is important in life. When only hours earlier a college professor commented, “When people start to take life seriously, around their late 20’s, early 30’s…” To know that I even have a baby sister (sorry, 14?) at home who is ahead of those 30-year-olds.To laugh with joy when I hear one of my Jewish atheist friends still wonder about what we mean when we say “soul”

…And it’s because we’re around people to whom the mind is that treasure… and we’re not even conscious of it, but I believe it would pain us to let that mind atrophy…Now just think… how much we could do, like Avram, by taking that intellect into action.

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