Would you please put this Sunday, April 15, which we have called
"Generosity Sunday" in order to launch our campaign for a Global
Marshall Plan, on your personal agenda? Invite friends to your house and
discuss with them the NSP version of the Global Marshall Plan (you can
copy it from www.tikun.org or from www.spiritualprogressives.org) and
how it could change American politics and the future of our world? To
get more information, look at our March/April issue of Tikkun, and/or
read through the just cited web sites to get more info (we may soon have
a video in which I discuss these issues up on the site--check in the
next two days). Urge friends and neighbors and members of your
professional organizations, civic organizations, religious communities,
etc. join the NSP and get involved with us in trying to get local city
councils, state legislatures, and any candidate for national office
(from Congress to those seeking your backing in the primaries for
President) to endorse the Global Marshall Plan. Check out our website
www.spiritualprogressives.org to see if there are already public events
in your area, and if not, create an event at your house for your friends
and community. To get assistance and material, first check the website,
and if you need something more, contact Nichola@tikkun.org or
Jonathan@tikkun.org 510 644 1200.
In this note, I want to explain to you why we picked the Holocaust
Memorial Day to launch this initiative. To the starvation and suffering
on the planet today (with 2.4 billion people living on less than $2 a
day) we say: Never Again.
Warm regards and blessings.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
P.S. If you never want to hear from me, Tikkun or NSP again, send an
email with subject "Unsubscribe" to Assistant3@tikkun.org.
P.P.S. Since we are still $5,000 short of the money we need to put the
ad about how to end the war in Iraq into the N.Y. Times, it's not too
late for you to sign it and donate to it: at www.tikkun.org/iraqpeace.
Why Did We Put "Generosity Sunday" on Holocaust Memorial Day?
by Rabbi Michael Lerner
This Sunday, April 15, thousands of people will be holding "Generosity
Sunday" events to launch a campaign for a Global Marshall Plan and urge
the U.S. to change its fundamental orientation to foreign policy?away
from the notion that homeland security is achieved through domination of
other countries and peoples and culture and toward the notion that it
can be achieved through a spirit of generosity and caring for the
well-being of others. Our particular focus is on the Network of
Spiritual Progressives' version of the Global Marshall Plan?a call to
dedicate 1-5% of our Gross Domestic Product each year for the next
twenty years to a program dedicated to eliminating global poverty,
homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care, and
repairing the global environment. Details at www.spiritualprogressives.org.
But what does this have to do with Holocaust Memorial Day,which also
falls on April 15, a day that is dedicated to remembering the genocide
that faced the Jewish people and which wiped out one out of every three
Jews living on the planet at the time from?
Jews responded to the aftermath of the Holocaust by developing a slogan
that said "Never Again."
But there were two different interpretations of that slogan. One said,
"We will never let this happen to us again. We will acquire a state
(Israel), an army, and we will dominate anyone who doesn't like us so
that they will never be in a position to dominate us and do to us what
was done to us for the past two thousand years of Christians entering
our communities, raping, stealing, burning, and murdering us." I can
understand how an oppressed people gets to the point of thinking that
way, but unfortunately that became a slippery slope toward justifying
oppressive behavior toward Palestinians and a culture of suspicion of
others inside the Jewish community not unlike the culture of fear and
suspicion that dominated the U.S. after 9/11.
The second interpretation was quite different. Hundreds of thousands of
Jews around the world became deeply involved in social change movements
seeking to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, economic inequalities,
and to champion peace, social justice, civil liberties and human rights.
"Never Again" for these Jews meant that no one on the planet should ever
have to face again what Jews faced during the Hohlocaust. No wonder,
then, that these Jews became a major element in protesting segregation,
apartheid, the war in Vietnam, the attempted genocide in Bosnia and
Kosovo by Serbia, and now the destruction of Darfur. Instead of hearing
"Never Again" in narrow nationalist terms (Never Again to us), these
Jews heard it to mean "Never Again to Anyone."
There's another dimension of learning from the Holocaust that is still
relevant today. The Nazis were able to win power because Germany and
central Europe faced a huge economic breakdown after the First World
War, largely caused by the conditions imposed on Germany by the victors
(particularly the US, France and England). Millions of Germans faced
close to starvation conditions, their savings wiped out, their lives
shattered, and it was in this circumstance that the Nazi party won
recruits and popularity by challenging the economic breakdown and
promising the restoration of a "strong" and "safe" Germany.
Unfortunately, many middle class Germans (including many middle class
Jews), who had escaped the worst impact of the economic crisis, were too
preoccupied with their own personal lives and their own pursuit of
professional or economic advancement to notice as the world around them
became increasingly filled with people looking for some path to
security, safety and salvation and responded to the program of the Nazis
who promised a return to a community in which people cared about each
other (once they could get rid of the most selfish elements of the
society, which they claimed were the Jews, a charge which then made it
possible them to avoid addressing the capitalist system and the way it
engendered an ethos of me-first-ism and selfishness).
This is really the choice facing the U.S. and other advanced industrial
countries today: either to fall back into selfishness and try to protect
what we have from the growing anger at the vast inequalities in the
world today, or to respond with a spirit of caring for others, a
Strategy of Generosity in which we share what we have and try to rectify
the worst impact of the global market system. We'd need to change our
trade arrangements with the world so that they no longer aimed to
benefit the wealthy Western countries but to provide for the well-being
of everyone. We'd need the Global Marshall Plan. And we'd need an
open-hearted spirit of generosity that recognized that our own
well-being in the 21st century depends on the well-being of everyone
else on the planet, and on the well-being of the planet itself.
The Holocaust reminds us what can happen if we don't take care of each
other and extend our boundaries of caring beyond those we normally think
of as "us." In the 21st century, opening our hearts, our minds, and our
bank accounts to the other, if done in a smart way (not dumping money
into dictatorships or corrupt regimes, not giving for the sake of
getting an immediate return but giving for the sake of manifesting a
genuine caring) becomes the necessary prerequisite for saving our
planet. The Holocaust nearly destroyed one people, but its message is a
universal message, and it's a message that leads us to advocate for the
Global Marshall Plan and the Strategy of Generosity both on Generosity
Sunday and beyond.,
Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun
synagogue in Berkeley, author of 11 books including the 2006 national
best seller /The Left Hand of God/, and national chair of the Network of
Spiritual Progressives which is organizing the campaign for a Global
If you prefer to never hear from me again with my op-ed submissions,
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