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If the Russians Love Their Children Too

03/24/2022 08:06:55 AM


Rabbi Scott Hausman -Weiss

"Russians" by Sting (Click here for a You Tube Video of “Russians” by Sting)
In Europe and America there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mister Krushchev said, "We will bury you"
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It'd be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too
How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy?
There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too
There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the president?
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore
Mister Reagan says, "We will protect you"
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
But what might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too
I was 16 in 1985 when Sting sang these words to us (if you click the link above, Sting just reprised it for the first time in decades. Good to know he and I are on the same wavelength J)  Back in 1985, it felt like he was singing it to us.  His album, “Dream of the Blue Turtles” wafted through my teenage room from vinyl on a record player, and cassette tape in my car.  The Berlin Wall still stood, and Star Wars wasn’t just a movie.  We stood up against South African Apartheid and we stood for Soviet Refuseniks.  I was growing up in LA – la la land… long before the movie, and we wanted so desperately to believe that things could get better.  These words above filled me with dread and hope. 
I hadn’t thought about this song in many, many years but it returned a few weeks ago, awakened from the recesses of memory….”if the Russians love their children too.”  I know today that of course they do, but tyranny undermines their ability to truly act on it.  Tyranny is a pervasive force – it is everything the Torah stands against.  At a minimum, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, the children of Russian mothers and fathers, have lost their lives in the past month, pursuing the empty and pathetic dreams of a sorry and desperate man.  But now is the time when our sacred texts must call out to us in protest, as Emile Zola said to the French aristocracy, “J’accuse!” (I accuse you of Jew hatred) and the Prophet Nathan said to King David, “Atah Ha-ish,” “You are the man [who has committed these atrocities]…”  It is however not only the French in the early 20th century or King David of the ancient days who stand as symbols of the societal cancers of power seeking to hold on to power at all costs.  No, it is we.  It is society.  How long will we - the US, the West, abide the “realpolitik” that “forces” us to remain in bed with figures like Putin and Xi and MBS and Erdogan and Orban?  For yes, even in the face of all of this, we still lie in bed together. 
I write this not from the point of view of political science or as a governmental finger pointer, but more as a prayer.  I do not want to sit back and pretend that any of this is OK, “to be expected,” or “the price of admission.”  As a Prophet of the people of Israel (I am neither a Prophet nor the son of a Prophet), but at times I must step into the Prophet’s shoes and declare, “we are moving in a direction that is becoming our demise.”  Of course, in many ways, this is not new.  And there are so many who have suffered long before I raise these words today.  We have stuck ourselves into a vice grip that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We despoil the earth with the resources needed to fuel our lives…rewarding the ones with the impurest of motives…that we then must shore up our defenses to maintain…the despoiling which inevitably leads to an efficiency model that drives inequality, at best, and decimation, at worst.  It’s a vicious cycle and it calls to mind Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:20, in which God shows Adam around Eden & says, “Behold my works, how pleasant & how beautiful they are....! Be aware and don’t ruin or destroy my world, for if you ruin it, there is no one to come and fix it up after you.”
God, please inspire within us, and all humankind, to know and understand that all of us must loosen our grip.  We are not so desperate that taking from others is the most critical act.  We are so much more than that which we fool others to obtain.   And plainly put, we have enough.  The world, as it is, is enough if we but open our eyes and allow ourselves and others a measure of kindness and space and compassion.  Life is already hard enough without bombs.
Sat, January 28 2023 6 Shevat 5783