The 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Jewish high holidays represent a time for reflection.
I am not very religious and rarely go to temple. However, I do try to uphold Jewish traditions and my worldview is strongly impacted by the fact that I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor.
The Jewish high holidays, which began yesterday at sundown, are a time for Jews to atone for their sins and reflect on what they can do in the upcoming year to be better people.
A common theme both from 9/11 and the Holocaust is "never forget".
As I watch Ken Burns' The U.S. and the Holocaust, I will be reflecting on lessons learned from both 9/11 and the Holocaust and how they apply to our democracy. This timeline of events from the U.S. Holocaust Museum website provides a quick and easy-to-read summary of the deterioration of Germany from parliamentary democracy to an autocracy that sanctioned the persecution, imprisonment, and torture of "dangerous" groups and "non-Aryan" Germans. This article summarizes the more than 400 decrees and regulations that dismantled the German democracy and advanced and codified the discriminatory Nazi agenda.
During the high holidays, I will also reflect on the importance of respect and empathy. Earlier this month, I had a very difficult situation with someone who I'm very close to. The situation ended in disappointment for both of us, but I believe we did accept and respect each other's decisions. The situation would've been even more difficult if we focused our energy on trying to "persuade" each other. My personal takeaway is to respect and try to understand different perspectives. This approach is particularly important in our current climate of polarization and very deeply held attitudes and convictions. Such an approach minimizes conflict and fosters collaboration and cooperation.
In the same spirit, as we approach the mid-term elections, I encourage everyone to protect and support our democracy by educating themselves on the issues and candidates that are on the ballot, rather than relying on misleading commercials and sound bites aired by both parties. Take a few minutes to truly research candidates' records and what they stand for, and learn how to spot and handle online misinformation.
A review of polling by the Brookings Institute shows that misinformation is one of the leading drivers of erosion of trust in our democracy. We all need to play our part in combating this trend. More on this topic in next month's newsletter.
Have a great month.