This was the topic of a discussion I saw last night with Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ and his good friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
I was bit surprised that out of twenty or so friends I e-mailed, I had only one taker. For those in Chicago, they will be speaking on June 8th and it is the kind of evening that will change your life.
Although it was supposed to be a talk on how America can unite itself and come together in the face of such divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, it was way more than that. You could not help but walk away feeling hopeful, that even between extreme positions, there is some solid and common ground waiting to be explored and shared.
I have heard Cory speak before, and have seen him on shows like Real Time with Bill Maher, and I can say without hesitation that this man will be a true political superstar, and rightfully so. He has the perfect balance between intelligence and articulation and an uncanny and disarming honesty. He does not hide his passion nor his belief that there is a good we all must find in each other. He is one of, if not the most inspiring speakers I have ever seen.
What I walked away with was this… We need to go beyond the extremes and find ares we can all agree on… No matter where you fall in the abortion debate, both sides want to see less abortions… So take that and figure out a way to work together. No matter where you fall on gun control, both sides would like to see less murders. So take that point and work together. Gay marriage is not destroying heterosexual marriage, we are doing that on our own, just fine. Look into yourself and make your own marriage work. Do not worry about others who truly love each other and simply want equal rights.
Shmuley made a great analogy about a bird. It takes both a right wing and a left wing coming together on the body of the bird to make it soar.
We need to make mutual efforts to find common goals. We must work together to conquer the urgencies of the moment.
People will come together to OPPOSE something, so how do we bring them together to make something happen, to support something positive.
We as a people define ourselves by our differences, by what makes us different. We need to be proud of who we are, proud of what makes us unique, but define ourselves by our commonality… what makes us come together.
They talked about greed and how greed has brought the US economy to the ground. Shmuley said “When you have nothing on the inside, you compensate with too much on the outside.” He also said that “believing the more you have is the more you are is corrupting.”
Cory discussed the everyday heroes, who are so often ignored in favor of the better news story, the better dog fight, the media manipulated front page. He asked, “what are we doing to empower ourselves and others?”
One of them pulled out this great quote… not sure who it is from…
“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”
Live your values… Be proud of who you are. Revel and celebrate in your diversity. Embrace it, learn from it. Allow others to make you and your own beliefs stronger. Stay true to yourself and what makes you unique.
Other quotes… need to find out who said them… “The glorious nature of your own tradition.”
“Honor your incarnation.”
They both said… the world is a reflecting pool… What we put out, is what we get back.
A Quick, Initial Reading List:
James Baldwin – The Next Time
Carter G. Woodson – The Mis-Education of the Negro
The Biography of MLK – Taylor Branch
Lonely Man of Faith – Joseph Soloveitchik
Shalom in the House – Shmuley Boteach