Friday, December 21, 2012

Who’s That Trip-Trapping on My Bridge?


8 Tevet, 5772
December 21th, 2012

Publishing these days means receiving a slew of hateful, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, anti-religious, and otherwise bitterly hateful comments. Content is irrelevant. You could post a video of cats cuddling, and someone will tell you to F-off and die, or that the LORD G-d forBade cats wE must live By HIS Word.

But the tragedy in Newtown really brought out the trolls.

Take that article, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” written by Liza Long, a journalist with amentally ill child. Though Gawker removed the comment, one writer hoped that she “rot[ted] in hell, you stupid b*tch.”

Or take the President’s speech at the interfaith memorial service. I thought he spoke beautifully. However his words delayed coverage of the ‘Niners-Patriots game, and people took to twitter to lace their disapproval with racial invective. 

These days, if a thing can be thought, it will be said, and then posted or tweeted. If a thought is possible, we will hear it in public discourse. I am frightened of such a world.

The Torah teaches, “The words a person speaks are deep waters, a flowing stream, a fountain of wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:4). The verse doesn’t seem to make much sense: considering the amount of blather we hear, how can a person’s words be a fountain of wisdom?

The verse means wise people exercise considerable choice when speaking. Being wise means filtering out 90% of what goes through our heads, and choosing, with care, those thoughts that deserve to be seen.

Every one of us is half crazy. Every human being has parts of his or her soul – considerable parts – that are undeveloped, twisted awry, and malformed. Crazy, inappropriate thoughts go through our heads every second. Rav Kook teaches that the spiritual journey is one of clarifying, healing, and growing the stunted sections of our souls.

But when people have an outlet to express pure id, the soul grows more twisted. Even online, even anonymously, it matters which parts of ourselves we allow to speak.

1 comment:

  1. As usual Scott, your Perlos are dessert for a hungry mind. I do miss your weekly Perlos. Have a wonderful healthy joyous New Year. (One of the many benefits of being Jewish is the ability to wish 2 Happy New Years)