Sunday, December 9, 2012

Despair. Hope. Chanukah.

It has been a rough week in the political arena. The push for privatization of public education. . . the ramming through of the freedom to freeload (a.k.a. right to work) legislation. . . and some other bills that have gotten less attention around reproductive rights (see the ACLU of Michigan letter), foster care/adoption, and the removal of benefits for people caring for disabled relatives (see the Michigan League for Human Services blog), well. . . it's a bit much.

Last night was the first night of Chanukah. And you might know that we Jews light a menorah that has eight candles or oil lamps (well, nine, actually--one is a "helper" candle), each one representing one of the nights.  As with most Jewish rituals, there are rabbinic arguments that have defined the rituals. In the case of the Chanukah lights, two famous rabbis disagreed. Shammai said that you should start on night #1 by lighting all of the lights, and each night subtract a light. Hillel  said that you should start on night #1 with one light, and each night add a light.

If you have ever heard of Hillel and Shammai, then you probably already know that they had many arguments. These are recorded in the compendium of Jewish law and stories called the Talmud. Nearly all of the time, Hillel won. (Shammai only won twice.) Hillel won in the case of the Chanukah lights--we start with one light and add one each day. And his reasoning makes sense to me, too--that we should always strive to increase light in the world.

If you were to read some of the other Hillel/Shammai discussions, what would probably strike you is that Hillel was very much a creative problem-solver; and ultimately, his decisions carried the day.

This week, I'm trying not to despair. I'm trying to be hopeful. I'm trying to believe that in the long run, the people who believe in the value of public education and in the value of democracy will win. Just like Hillel.

If you need inspiration, I've got Peter Paul and Mary's "Light One Candle" at the end for inspiration. (The version I found on youtube is rather sappy. I'm just warning you :). As they say, "Light one candle for the strength that we need, to never become our own foe. . . Light one candle for all we believe in, that anger not tear us apart. . . don't let the lights go out!"

If you support workers' rights, you're being asked to wear red on Monday.

If you are able to attend the rallies in Lansing on Tuesday about the workers' rights, reproductive rights, and the legislative process, I've received several facebook event invitations. You can drive directly to Lansing or you can get on the bus with other like-minded people. 

Leave from the Ann Arbor Education Association offices at 7:30 in the morning (get there at 7:15).

Start at 8 a.m. at Lansing Center and march to the Capitol to be there at 9:30 a.m..

Join Planned Parenthood Advocates at the Capitol at 9:30 a.m.

Oh, and one more thing. If you would like to strategize with Ann Arbor school board member Andy Thomas, he's got an open "coffee hour," also on Tuesday, December 11th, from 7-8 p.m. at Sweetwaters Cafe, 123 W. Washington St. in Ann Arbor.

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