Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Chosen People

Few beliefs over the millennia have been as misunderstood as the ’Chosen People’ doctrine. I do not purport to rehash any of those arguments here. I am no religious scholar neither an intellectual nor a philosopher. I approach each piece of reading and writing in the same way – with an open mind and a willingness to learn. My ramblings here are merely musings on my reading, personal thoughts on history as ‘twere and not intended as statements of fact or faith.

When I first heard that ‘Chosen People’ phrase many years ago I thought it a peculiar aggrandizement indeed a racist nomenclature for how can any one people decide that they are ‘Chosen’ above all others?. But as I grew older I realized that the term did not necessarily mean ‘better’ or the ‘best’. For a huge number of Jewish teachings, as in Christianity and Islam and other religions, are committed to the belief that all mankind - of whatever colour, gender, creed –is created in the image of one God and is possessed of an inherent human dignity and worthiness.

The horrors of the Holocaust often come to mind when the term the ‘Chosen People’ is mentioned. Were the Jews chosen, not solely I know, but as the primary victims of genocide so terrible it will reverberate for aeons? And why? It certainly showed Humanity what cruelty is innate in us and what a responsibility, a duty we have to tolerate, accept, love and care for one another. Or is it merely coincidence that those of the Jewish faith were the primary target of Hitler’s ethnic cleansing? It could be both of course, the ‘coincidence’ will forever be used to illustrate both the suffering that Man can withstand and the cruelty that Man is capable of. The battle between good and evil goes on every day, in every one of us, in our every mean and petty thought and every small gesture of compassion and humility. We should welcome the battle within us, for the very fact of it shows us to be closer to Heaven than our human minds perhaps even realise. Above all it proves us capable of being modeled on the Divine as well as re-affirming our obvious human frailties.

Some days my head hurts with too much thinking. I think a big mug of tea, some toast with melted butter and an hour in the sun is called for. Or perhaps some gardening, for there I can be judge and jury, compassionate in staking and watering, ruthless with weeds and spent flower heads. My own little kingdom.

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