Contributing to the Journal impels me to reflect and consider if I could have done better. An example is a recent critique about Robert Lappin’s Op-Ed about whether Islam is a religion or a political and social movement. Unlike my 92½-year-old Jewish mother who declares, “Only a very stupid bigot would believe that Islam is not a religion,” I tried to respectfully address what I intuited may be the gerenalized basis of his argument. Nonetheless, my concluding sentence, “I doubt Mr. Lappin would want Judaism to be disqualified of its religious status because most of its adherents are convinced that support for Zionism is critical to the fulfillment of our faith,” would not very likely endear me to Mr. Lappin.
The remark had been witty and gratifying, but it exploited Mr. Lappin personally. Were he to have read it, very likely anger would have distracted him from thoughtfully reflecting upon the previous portions of my critique.
It would have been kinder and more creative had I written, “I very seriously doubt that Mr. Lappin would want Judaism to become vulnerable to disqualification of its religious status…” then adding, “Nor would I.”
The students at the public high school where I work have taught me about how “micro-aggressions” seriously affect people’s emotions and decisions. My best friend of 14 years, a very empathic Muslim woman, sometimes challenges me to pursue being ever more considerate in how I word statements because of our mutual concern for deterring cruelty. I am glad to be inspired by such people.
Dick Freeman, Chestnut Hill