Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement.

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Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

We are in a world of turmoil. The planet is burning, the seas are swelling, the disease of COVID-19 is among all of us from the highest to the lowest. Turmoil is unsettling; turmoil breeds discomfort; turmoil satisfies only the sadists.

Each of us, if we are American citizens, are also tied to the electoral process — or should be. As your read this, many of you have already voted for the candidates of your choice; some of you will refrain from voting in order to allow the rest of us to direct your life with our votes.

To say the obvious, this election cycle (how many years long?) has been hectic and nasty and challenging. Mis-speaks, sloppy language, even lies from everywhere have been thrown our way. Few, if any, candidates have addressed issues of respect, tolerance, peace or community.

For all the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on advertising and promotion, how many children could have been fed? How many given schoolbooks? How many families could have had their rent paid, to avoid eviction?

This is truly turmoil. I am not a psychic nor a prophet. But not to recognize the effect of this turmoil is to be blind to reality and insensitive to the reality of the actual human condition today.

You may be reading this after the election of November 2020 is over, or still continuing, or completely undecided. Again, turmoil.

Maybe if the winds subside and the rains fall, we may see an end of the fires. If not, more turmoil for those who face the devastation of homelessness. And if the storms keep coming, we will probably muster more folks to assist, only to leave the swamped by themselves after the TV cameras have left. Turmoil!

What could end the turmoil? How can we find a tomorrow that is less tumultuous? Where are the answers to our desires and/or prayers?

When turmoil does quiet down, where will each of us stand? Will our new human planetary status then be easy? Certainly, it will not allow anyone to defer from personal responsibility and action.

Each of us will be required to learn again to help our neighbor, to care about our neighbor as ourselves, to offer our neighbor what we can to alleviate suffering.

And neighbors are not merely the folks next door or around the corner. Neighbors following the turmoil are all the members of the human family. Neighbors are folks here and across the ocean. We are all neighbors existing on this small blue planet together.

The turmoil we see, feel and sometimes even smell, should turn us around in our narrow thinking of “what’s best for me,” and expand into a vision of “what’s best for our neighbors, for all of us.” As human residents on this small planet, we can no longer afford the luxury of leaving it to others to get the job done. Whether placing yard signs, cheering first responders or working at a food bank, there is something for each of us to do. There is something to do that can help our families, our neighbors and the world.

Turmoil will continue to spin around us until we grasp at the potential we all have to make things better. Fires can be extinguished; elections can be settled; our response to climate change can alter the high waters and medicines can be developed. We can again become comfortable where we are. We can again be happy.

Let’s reflect on the old maxim, “Success is getting what you want; Happiness is wanting what you get.” And may we bring some of our personal joy and happiness into the lives of others.

Whew! It’s tough living through turmoil!

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