8610941173_491f87b8dc

Antisemitism in the United States

Linkedin Google+ Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Email

8610941173_491f87b8dc

Last week I received two off-color remarks about Jews. It didn’t surprise me, I’ve experienced periodic antisemitism throughout my life in the United States.

Perhaps last week’s remarks were spawned by my beard, a salty rabbinical looking thing that I usually shave. Maybe they had nothing to do with me at all. It really doesn’t matter what spawned them, they revealed an ignorance that’s existed through millenia.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia called Glenside between the ages of 2-8. We were the only Jewish family in an Irish Catholic neighborhood.

Things did not fair well for us. Our cars were vandalized, a swastika was painted on our door, our house egged periodically, and yes, my sister and I were bullied ceaselessly by neighborhood children, our supposed friends, who teased and beat us regularly, turning trips to the playground into an anxiety ridden game of Russian Roulette.

It was a brutal experience, one that I rarely discuss in great detail. I never fully recovered from Glenside.

For more than a decade afterwards, whenever I walked anywhere I watched my shadow, fearful of getting jumped. Today, I can still sense when someone is approaching me from my backside. And yeah, I question intent in relationships… My first instinct is that people are messing with me.

For years, I denied my heritage and avoided all faith. My young mind reasoned that Christianity beat me, and Judiasm was the reason. To this date, I cannot accept a western concept of God.

I incorporated some pretty vicious defense mechanisms into my adolescent psyche that I’ve spent my life trying to let go and evolve. As I’ve grown older I’ve seen how responding with forceful argument to perceived wrongs (fight bullying with bullying) is an errant protection mechanism. Now I try to practice silence and restraint unless a response is warranted. I use distance to protect me from those that hurt me, and to protect them from the deep anger they unknowingly tap.

Consequentially, I think I’ll always be a bit of a loner. I don’t trust friends to do the right thing consistently. Loved ones and friends deliver great pain in this world.

Maybe there’s still hope, I don’t know. My inner circle has been there for years, decades now. They accept me for who I am.

So you see, this childhood experience left me with some jagged edges that are getting smoothed over ever so slowly by the stream of life. I realize that the acts I take today because of those experiences are my responsibility, and not something that can be blamed on my young tormentors; that those children in the 1970s were kids, acting in an ignorance handed down through the eons generation by generation.

Yet, those scars also serve me well. They motivate me to succeed, to not let bullies win in stamping down others. Additionally, I am rarely surprised when I hear off color comments about Jews. I’ve seen enough in this world to know that the holocaust can happen again, here or elsewhere.

For all of its beauty and grace, the human species delivers great violence and terror, too.

The Livingston’s Jewish Future

Image by Robert Burke, Jr.

Image by Robert Burke, Jr.

My daughter Soleil is a beautiful girl with fair skin, a button nose, blue eyes, and dirty blonde hair. But because she’s a half Jew, the Nazis would have sent her to the concentration camps to live and then die.

When she’s at an appropriate age, we will go to the Holocaust Museum and she will probably watch me weep (it’s recommended no one younger than 11 visit the permanent exhibit). I will weep for my past, for my grandfather and his family who lost everything and barely escaped Nazi Europe, for those who suffered in the worst way possible and fell to the great Nazi brutality, and for my 19th century American ancestors who changed their name in suburban Chicago from Lowenstein to Livingston to avoid persecution. I cannot help but weep for the terrible brutality waged upon Jews now and historically throughout the eons.

I have never visited the museum, knowing it would cause me to cry uncontrollably. Soleil will go to the Holocaust Museum with her Dad, and see me break. We cannot forget what happened.

It will be the time when will she learn of her blood, her father’s past, and her ancestors. I can only shelter her for so long, she must know, because no matter what, she is a Jew, in part. Her children will be 1/4 Jewish.

I have Jewish friends who are shocked when they hear my story. They’ve never known hateful bigotry in their lifetimes. I hope Soleil experiences their version of the United States, that her future day trip to the Holocaust Museum becomes a dormant packet of information that she never has to draw upon.

Yet, this tale is not their lucky life, rather my damaged existence.

We live in a country full of ignorance with a deteriorating education structure that breeds increasing Christian fundamentalism and conservative dogmatism. I fear the day a Tea Party member becomes President of the United States, a reality that’s definitely possible, for it could easily be the harbinger of anti-semitism not seen in this country since the early 20th century.

Consider Sarah Palin’s blood libel episode. And when Bush II became president and 9-11 happened, I experienced anti-semitism in Washington, DC for the first time in my life. Some people quietly blamed the Jews for 9-11, and in one case I saw graffiti on a car blaming Jews for Middle East strife. It was shocking to see this attitude portrayed in this international city..

If anti-semitism rears its ugly head in the United States en masse, I might move my family out of the country. I’m not kidding, not just for political reasons, but to protect us from what could happen.

To this day I am skeptical of just about any pitch I receive on Christianity, and unbelieving of western religion in general. I listen, I hear the spiritual value, but I’ve seen too much, too many evils coming from the hands of the righteous fundamentalism spawned by religion and moral superiority in this world. There’s so much to say about this tangent, this post could go on forever, which would not be fair to you, my fair blog reader.

Legacy of Fighting Anti-Semitism

Ancestors: Six Brothers Livingston

Livingston Family Photo undated (believed to be c 1896 to 1899) – Six Sons of Mayer and Dora Livingston (.b Meyer Y Dusschen [Blumenfeld] Lowenstein) Location unknown, but presumed to be in Bloomington, Illinois. Back Row (left to right): Irvin I. Livingston (my great grandfather), Alfred Livingston, Herman Livingston. Front Row (left to right): Sigmund Livingston (started the Jewish Anti Defamation League); Harold Livingston; Maurice Livingston.

Why put the past after the future? Fear of the future is grounded in the past, and my hope is also grounded in an ancestral past.

It’s been a while since I talked about my great grand Uncle Sigmund Livingston, but his actions in the face of anti-semitism in the early 20th century produced today’s Anti-Defamation League in 1913.

The Anti-Defamation League has had its issues, but the fight against oppression it wages, and the good that it has brought far outweighs these blips.

This channeling of a fight against wrongs offers a great lesson. Opting for silence against oppressors rather than fighting, and forgiving my childhood bullies may seem like yielding. Instead, I counter that argument. The fight was misplaced, for it’s not the individual who delivers anti-semitism and bigotry, rather a general societal ignorance throughout the world, wherever someone is treated poorly, beaten, or in the worst cases killed because of their race, religion, tribe or gender.

Ignorance is the enemy.

Fighting ignorance with light and education is the only course of action that benefits both those attacked, and the oppressors. We can forgive each other when we come to know that we’re not so different afterall. An oprressor can see their wrongs, and share their experience with others, and most importantly break the chains of bigotry in the immediate future with their children.

We left Glenside in the summer of 1980. It took me 33 years to summon enough courage to share my story publicly.

I did not speak to ask for sympathy or to explain my wrongs or complain. You may comment with compassion or with anger, for this post offers much to like and dislike at the same time. It won’t matter. I’ll walk forward with my chin up, ready to grow and succeed in spite of the past. It’s all I know, and the only course to feeling better, terrible in motivation, yet defiant and grateful in success.

No, I published this post because those comments were finally enough to break the camel’s back. I won’t yield to the anti-semite anymore. I’m not ashamed of myself or my blood. Instead, I choose to force that negativity into light (and I donated to the ADL, too).

Comment if you must, but if this post really touched you, then share it with friends and family, talk to them about prejudice and bigotry. Talk about how every single one of us holds great potential for light and darkness within us, that we can make the world better if we choose to see our commonality, and everyone’s uniqueness, too. By celebrating our differences, we can create a place that’s safe enough for everyone to be comfortable.

Potential unravels when we hold people to the torch, when we make them suffer for not being the same, or having a differing point of view, or more commonly, for differences of gender, sexual preference, beliefs and descent. The world becomes colder, fraught with danger.

The floor is yours. Forgive me if I don’t respond.

Linkedin Google+ Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Email
  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Geoff, Prejudice, bigotry, racism, and hatred are all spawned from the minds of small and ignorant people. Difficult as it may be, it is always important to consider the source when deciding how, or if, to respond.

    When I am confronted by someone spewing their hateful philosophies, I find it pretty easy to ignore when I remember how unimportant this person is and how little he/she means to me. Sometimes I even feel sorry for them that they could be so stupid as to believe in what they are saying.

    Responding is exactly what they are after. No response renders them ineffective and trivial.

    Cheers,
    Marc

  • http://twitter.com/bowden2bowden Randy Bowden

    Those of us, who have not felt the pain, do not know it. But we know ignorance can be fixed with education. Unfortunately, every new generation is infected with it at birth. Keep your faith rich with optimism Geoff and now we are with you.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you for your support, Randy, here and on Google+. I am glad Triberr has brought us together.

  • Frank Abrams

    Geoff, thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I feel strongly that the State of Israel for all its imperfections has changed the perception of Jew as victim & scapegoat forever. You never know… your daughter could find a Jewish/Israeli partner?! Meanwhile go watch some Woody Allen or Mel Brooks & smile. Shabbat Shalom

  • http://twitter.com/EllisPines Ellis Pines

    Dear Geoff, I rarely share my own approach to spirituality with business contacts, but your blogs today have touched me. And I have enjoyed our contacts (too few in past years) and your honoring me as a brand mentor.
    Any so-called religious expression that teaches or condones separation or bigotry has nothing at all to do with genuine spirituality. The great teachers have always encouraged “oneness through love,” however hard that may be for mankind, caught in lower motivational forces to accept. When I was 21, having gone through 60s activism and hippie drop-out, I came across Meher Baba. (I made my first trip to India in 1969 and most amazingly, in spite of my transplant, my most recent last fall.) Over the last 45 years, I have found Meher Baba’s principles (as well as those of many others who are to me “truthful” spiritual figures) consonant with the essence of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc., though frequently at odds with the muddled, crude, egoistic outward expressions, which as you note are ridden with defense mechanisms, aggression, wistful notions of superiority and separatism. In that light, the horrendous experiences of the past century (what the Hindus call the Kali Yuga) might be seen as preparatory to a steep learning curve. I am not trying to preach or convince you or anyone of this because that is inappropriate. In the light of the metaphysics I am discussing, mankind ultimately resonates with that truth because in the course of many lives we have the opportunity to experience being everything, persecutor and persecuted, winner and loser…some of the types of things you have yourself mentioned. This philosophy is by no means eastern. You’ll find it in the Lurianic Caballah and Chasidism as well as in mystical Christianity and Sufism

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful comment, Ellis. And it’s so good to hear from you.

      I spent some time with Thich Nhat Hanh’s monks and nuns, and they had the same teaching, the teaching of interbeing and oneness, and I truly believe that there is some universal truth to this. I can recite the Lord’s Prayer by heart, and see beautiful truth in it. For that I am grateful. I am grateful to be able to at a minimum hear and comprehend enough of other faiths to see their spiritual value.

      Bless you, Ellis for sharing your experience and journey today, just as you have with me in the past, when it came to branding. We must get together soon.

  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    I think anyone who reads this MUST be touched by its honesty and how much courage it took to share your story. So I will just say – thank you.

    • geofflivingston

      You are a good friend. I know we’ve talked around this a bit in the past over Chinese. I think you understand now. Thank you, too.

  • http://www.jasonkonopinski.com/ Jason Konopinski

    I can say nothing more than ‘thank you’ to this incredibly brave and powerful post, Geoff.

  • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

    Geoff thanks for being open enough to share your story. It made me more interested in hearing everything else you have to say.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.reusswig Elizabeth Papa Reusswig

    Geoff – I am awed by your ability to share your painful story. I have witnessed similar events like you describe and it sickens and scares me. Thank you for your courage in speaking out.

  • TJtruthandjustice

    This is a very insightful and thoughtful post. Antisemitism is alive and well in the U.S. – particularly on the web, and we must remain vigilant against it. I would add that religious fundamentalists of all stripes – not just Christians – are at the root of the problem. Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel and Islamic radicals in the Muslim world are also adding to the turmoil in their own ways. Fundamentalism breeds intolerance and must be seen for what it is: toxic and destructive.

    • geofflivingston

      Agreed, fundamentalism breeds a justification for wrongs that we have seen replayed across the eons in different faiths in every continent populated by man. It is a terrible, terrible thing in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/jeanniecw Jeannie Walters

    First, your great grandfather was clearly a hero and that’s awesome. I’m amazed when the world doesn’t recognize the very things that keep us apart are really what make us alike. I’m grateful to have been raised in a home where we were encouraged to ask if we didn’t understand. My mother, an Irish Catholic of the highest degree, met a Jewish woman for the first time when she was a young mother. These two young mothers, with 7 children among them at that time, decided to learn. They invited each other’s families in to celebrate holidays. To this day (44 years later), we decorate my parents’ Christmas tree with this family on the same day we light menorahs. It was a wonderful lesson not only for us but now for our children on why it’s ok to be curious about differences, but it’s so much better to embrace them. Thank you for sharing this and starting this discussion. And one more thing – don’t let your protective armor protect you from the wonderful, rich world we live in. Yes, people can suck and cause pain. But there are many who can lift and inspire and root you on when you need it.

    • geofflivingston

      I have two very close friends who are Irish Catholic, they are very good to me, they know me, all of me, dark and light, and have helped me immensely in the toughest of times. I know this peace you talk about, and I am grateful for Jimmy and Dennis.

      As the armor, I do the best I can, I do the best I can. It gets better over time, but I still shield myself when I feel I must. Perhaps one day it will all wash off my back like water on a duck’s. Thank you for your comment.

  • http://www.howardgreenstein.com/blog Howard Greenstein

    A difficult and terrible story, and at the same time wonderful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • http://twitter.com/TobeyDeys Tobey Deys

    Geoff, thank you for sharing your heart and working for real change ~ namaste xox

  • David Gorodetski

    Dear Geoff,

    Yasher koach (YAH-shehyr KOH-ahkh) on sharing your powerful, inspiring story.

    My own Holocaust Day

    I cry …. Oh how I cry

    I cry for the grandfather I didn’t not knew who was shot in the back in the town square,
    I cry for my grandmother parents, sisters and brother who perished in flames,
    I am crying for my grandmother, the childhood
    she never had, the cargo she was carrying all these years, the best kept secrets deep in the heart, the hunger, the cold, the darkness, no faith …. I cry ….

    While I was crying, something suddenly put it all in perspective, I realize how lucky I am!

    We have a roof,
    We have a smart, beautiful healthy child,
    She have her own room, safe and warm bed to put her head at night
    We have a family, extended family
    We have food, baked bread, meat and milk in the fridge
    We laugh, we dance, we fool around, we’re happy
    We are free
    We are alive!

    Something on my Holocaust day,
    Put things in perspective…..

    Something that day made ​​me stop by her bedroom for few minuets longer, I made sure she is covered well, I gave her a bit tighter hug then usual, I toke a deep breath of her smell, and I gave her a big kiss.

    As I was about to step away she asked, “daddy why are you crying?” I turned around and told her…

    Because I am happy

    • geofflivingston

      This is beautiful. I look at my beautiful happy girl frequently, and think similar things. She is blessed not to have my upbringing and I will do whatever I can to protect her, and make sure she has the opportunity to have as much innocence as she chooses.

      Thank you, David for this perspective. I hope you and Larry are doing well.

  • http://twitter.com/JenKaneCo Jennifer Kane

    I’ve always felt like religious intolerance remains so alive and well (at least here in the Heartland) because it’s so often wrapped in this warped sense of helpfulness. I have been told horrible things by Christians because they said they’ “simply wanted to save my soul.”

    It’s kind of like when people say they are making fun of fat people because they are, “concerned for their health.”

    And some how, because it’s supposed to be helpful that makes it okay. When of course it is not. For instance it is not okay to invite an 11yo girl to a “pizza party,” that ends up being a church meeting where adults sit in a circle around her and scream that she should accept Jesus as her personal lord and savior, else her mom and dad would be burned alive in the fires of hell. If I live to be 100, I will NEVER forget what that felt like.

    So I guess this is to say that, as someone who grew up not belonging to a religion, I empathize. I have shared your beautifully written post with my network (which is comprised of some of those very “helpful” Christian souls who bullied me as a child. May your words find some purchase in their hearts and spare another generation of children from this kind of behavior.

    • geofflivingston

      I, too, have felt the heat of conversion, and I totally agree with this feeling. I have felt this mostly from Christians, but also from more devout members of the Jewish faith. I am sure there is a larger post on the topic coming in the near future, but could not dive in depth on the topic of fundamentalism for fear of distraction.

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jennifer, as terrifying as it sounded. Just awful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501456842 Ken Mueller

    Thanks for sharing this. Somewhat surprised to hear your experiences, having grown up just a few blocks away in that same neighborhood. I guess it shows how neighborhoods change. I was there from 1962 to 70, and on Beverly Rd. many of our neighbors were Jewish. I’d love to know what changes occurred in that short period.

    When I hear these sorts of things still happening, it surprises me and yet it doesn’t. As a Christian, I’m offended by this, and was raised to be offended by this sort of behavior. People do stupid things and say stupid things. And it makes me angry when it comes from the mouths of people who claim to represent me and my beliefs.

    • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

      Same here. People who spew hate while claiming to love God is against everything that biblical Christianity stands for. It makes me incredibly sad and angry.

    • geofflivingston

      Yes, it’s true, though Glenside was not Rydal. Rydal was much better for me and my sister, though I was so defensive by the time I got there that I incurred some of the same behavior upon myself unwittingly. Still, it was a much more tolerant environment.

      And yes, I know many wonderful people who call themselves Christians (Irish Catholic or not) who have become friends, who are horrified by this story. I appreciate them, and the great things they bring to this world. Thank you so much for showing up on this post, Ken. It means a lot.

  • http://alphaefficiency.com/ Bojan Djordjevic

    You’ve got my full support. Jewish people suffered enough in 20th century. Jealousy and envy needs to stop. Your people should be a proud role model to the values nations should aspire.

  • http://twitter.com/gloriabell Gloria Bell

    Geoff, all too often your honesty, courage and insight leave me speechless and you have once again. I can only say Thank You for your example. I am proud and honored to know you and to call you my friend.

    • geofflivingston

      You have always been a good friend to me, Gloria. I have a special place in my heart for you. Thank you.

  • http://iangordon.me Ian Gordon

    Brave and powerful post Geoff. Thank you for writing it.

  • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

    Geoff with a beard? If there’s no picture, it didnt happen. I need proof :-)

    So, let me tell you which book you DONT want to read because it will make your blood boil. IBM and the Holocaust.

    How did Hitler know so precisely everything there was to know about the German Jews? Turns out, IBM.

    Thank you for letting us into your world like this. It’s brave and powerful. And dont forget a picture of you with a beard :-)

    • geofflivingston

      I’ll photobomb you next week. ;) Thank you for your support, Dino!

  • http://blog.paulnshapiro.com/ Paul Shapiro

    Thanks for publishing this Geoff. Stay positive.

  • http://twitter.com/jackdrsm Jack Durish

    The saddest part of this story is its misguided message towards the Tea Party. Yes, we need to suppress bigotry in all its forms. We’ll never completely eradicate it inasmuch as it is founded in ignorance and ignorance is more persistent than the common cold. Suppressing bigotry in all its forms will take a concerted effort with well aimed attacks. Unfortunately, attacks on the Tea Party detract from that effort. Indeed, bigots must be enjoying the show. They can practice discrimination freely while we attack the wrong parties. Folks, wake up! The Tea Party is a grass roots effort to limit government and restore liberty. Period! Haven’t you seen the evidence? Remember the black Congress members who claimed to have been assaulted with bigoted comments as they walked past a Tea Party gathering outside the Capitol Building? Remember how videos later proved that they were lying?

    I live near the University of California, Irvine campus where antisemitism is virulent. I have never seen or heard of an Tea Party support for those activities. No, look to the progressive faculty members who teach the false messages of anti-Zionism. You won’t find any of them at a Tea Party gathering. In fact, they are there beside you, damning the Tea Party.

    Wake up!

    • TJtruthandjustice

      Far from being a true grass roots phenomenon, the Tea Party “movement” would never have happened without the tens of millions of dollars in funding and professional organizational support it received from corporatist interests in the U.S.

      • http://twitter.com/jackdrsm Jack Durish

        More propaganda. Evil Koch brothers. Yes, they have contributed to Republican causes. Soros has contributed to Democratic ones. So what? Tea Party? Not so much. The Democrats and their propagandists (such as this one) have done everything in their power to repaint the Tea Party as a “Astro Turf” movement. Unfortunately for them, their messages only play to the ignorant. There is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate their claims. Their “exposes” are pure fiction. Ask them for real proof.

        • TJtruthandjustice

          Of course the Tea Party is an astro turf movement. Read the article. It’s full of details. Follow the money.

  • http://twitter.com/bobledrew Bob LeDrew

    Impressive story, Geoff. Thank you for allowing us to share it with you.

  • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

    Thank you, Geoff, for writing this and sharing it with us.

    I’m not Jewish, although I sometimes am thought to be because of my last name. For some reason, though, I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for the Jewish people and their story.

  • Seth Goldstein

    Geoff, you are an inspiration. I’m so glad you turned
    your adversity into something that has made you great. You are a role model to young people everywhere, not just Jews. Thank you for sharing this. I know it’s
    got to be hard.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you, Seth. I am a terribly flawed man trying to grow, and become of service. Your words encourage me. Thank you.

  • Paul in PA

    This is a story that unfortunately will be repeated until the end of time. But there is hope. As a child I spent time with culturally diverse childhood friends and realized they were no better nor worse than me. Through this experience, I was able to cast off the bigotries of my father. One person at a time, we can change the world. Geoff, remember the words of Dr. King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Let us all keep moving toward the light.

    • geofflivingston

      Fantastic quote, thank you for sharing it.

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    Hi Geoff,

    I’ll never forget the first time my son and I talked about the Holocaust and he asked me how many members of our family were murdered.

    It was a painful discussion.

    I have never forgotten walking through Yad V’shem (the Holocaust museum in Israel) behind a group of German tourists.

    It was hard not to get angry.

    I have had a few experiences in the States that confirmed that antisemitism isn’t dead yet. Some stories have been shared and others haven’t.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you for your comment, Josh. It is indeed not dead, and is always an awkward ugly thing when exposed. As a minority faith, we are treated like a race, and even though I don’t carry the faith, I am forever Jewish. We must not yield, we cannot yield and it’s great that your son knows the legacy of the Holocaust as awkward as it may have been.

    • http://twitter.com/LinkYeah Joel Windels™

      It’s hard not to get angry at perfectly innocent people from one particular part of the world paying their respects to one of the most tragic events in recent history? Now who’s the prejudiced one?

      Modern Germans don’t need to bear the guilt for the Holocaust, they’re no more guilty than modern Americans, especially those that have taken the time to visit the museum.

  • http://twitter.com/RogierNoort Rogier Noort

    Dude.., if, or when ever we might meet.., don’t shy away from the hug you’ll get.

    Also, the piece of land next to ours (in Belgium) is for sale. Would love to have you as a neighbour.

    Lastly.., having grown up with the war in Holland, I’ve always been extremely aware of the holocaust. We (the Dutch and Europe) let it happen again in Bosnia in the 90′s. We just stood and watched Muslim men being massacred.
    As a child, every 4th of May I was called into the house, at 8PM, 2 minutes of silence, the flags half way down their posts. No matter where we were or what we were doing, we stopped and be quite. Even cars (not all) on the highway pulled over to the shoulder.

    Now we do this every 5 years, often forget… We did this every year in order NOT to forget.., yet… time slips by…

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    My heart goes out to you, Geoff.

    There is potential for both great good and evil in the common ground of our humanity. The same person will do good with one hand and evil with another. And pain, itself, can be a teacher, a demon or both.

    Unfortunately, hate, prejudice and violence are inescapable. But, likewise, love, compassion, and kindness are inescapable.

    I fear, however, that the problem is not ignorance but the rocky ground of the human heart. Ignorance can be overcome by education but the seeds of evil that are in each of us – can only be negotiated by virtue – the individual life lived well and walked in beauty.

    If this is true, the challenge is beyond our collective capacity. But we can hope.

  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    I will do the right thing consistently:) My role on this planet is to spread joy…to accept, not to judge. I hope I exhibit in word and action, each and every day a compassion, empathy and support for each individual’s journey. You are brave, sincere and strong to share this, and as it broke my heart it also lifted my spirits to believe “we can create a place that’s safe enough for everyone to be comfortable.”

  • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

    This makes me sad for hate in general. As I read this, i couldn’t help but think of the young gay children who deal with similar issues today.
    A close girlfriend was telling me a story not too long ago and out the blue she said, “and he Jewed me down” on the price. and she kept talking. I was floored. I said, “you can’t say that.” She didn’t understand. She said it’s just an expression. Of course it’s an expression; it’s a racist one.
    In some cases, hate and prejudice is so embedded, people don’t even realize it. And my friend isn’t that at all. I’m Jewish and she’s a close friend. She just didn’t know.
    There is a lot of work ahead. A lot. Thank you for sharing this message and your stories.

  • Pingback: Rootless

  • therhetorician

    The western concept of God is extremely corrupt and evil.

  • Clinton

    I too couldn’t believe in a God that would “allow that to happen”…until I realized that was the same as saying I can’t believe in a God unless I understand Him. Since a God I can understand can be no god, I was in the end saying I can only believe in a God who is not a god…and the shock of my illogical stance, like, knocked me loose. While I am often disappointed in God, angry with God, frustrated with God – I am able to believe in a God I cannot understand. I hope you can too, again…someday.

  • http://twitter.com/LinkYeah Joel Windels™

    I’m sorry to hear of your cruel and troubling experiences, but as this is the internet, I feel compelled to say that the graffiti on a car blaming Jews for Middle East strife is in no way anti-semitic. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume the behaviour, and even existence, of Israel is responsible for much of the unrest in the Arabic world. Nothing discriminatory about it.

    I’d also caution against saying that your grand daughter will be 1/4 Jew. There is no Jewish race, genetically speaking, and you should allow her to be whatever she chooses to be.

    • geofflivingston

      You’re unfortunately wrong. I encourage you to look deep within and ask yourself what causes you to post such dark remarks on a post like this? We need less hate, less graffiti, less nasty remarks made (just because it is the Internet). Small acts of wrong lead up to big acts of hate.

      • http://twitter.com/LinkYeah Joel Windels™

        There is no hate here, and the remark is not dark. I also am sad to hear of your experiences and wish it wasn’t so.

        I’m just saying it’s very ignorant to insist that the nation of Israel is not a major cause of unrest in the middle east, and to label all such beliefs as anti-semitic. Nothing to do with discrimination at all. Why do I need to look deep within myself? Don’t be so patronising.

  • http://brianvickery.com/ Brian Vickery

    I very much appreciated this heartfelt post, Geoff. Racial profiling, and terrorizing, is despicable. Yet it will always exist because it truly spans generations. Today’s generation has haters who have no personal experience with WHY they hate. That is one reason I love that one picture that floats across the social channels with two fathers in a grocery store – with two infants on their backs – and the infants are reaching out to touch hands. One is white, one is black.

    My best friend in high school was black, and my grandparents always supported me. However, they tried to dissuade me from staying the night at his house. This was South Texas…whites did not stay with blacks. I was furious with the status quo, so I did stay with him several times.

    My first girlfriend in college was half Italian and half Hispanic. Again, that was a big no-no in South Texas. I didn’t care – she was beautiful both inside and out.

    I’m not one for rallying around political issues. I will not march…or otherwise petition. But I will live my life treating people as equals and appreciating their diversity. My daughters have taken that same approach…youngest is headed to Haiti this summer.

    As always, I appreciate your sincerity and vulnerability.

  • http://www.contentstrategyhub.com Eugene Farber

    Geoff, that touched me on a personal level. I’ve experienced some of that…although not anywhere near to the extent that you have. Luckily I grew up in a different place, in a different time.

    But I did lose a great grandmother to the Holocaust. And my great grandfather “served” three terms in a Soviet Gulag…he was only let out to go fight on the front lines of war.

    I was born in Soviet Russia and my passport didn’t say “Russian” it said “Jew.” I used to try to explain to people that I’m not Russian for that very reason…but I’ve given up on that.

    Every time I hear stories like this I don’t know what to feel…a mix of anger and sadness I guess.

    The Holocaust museum will definitely be a moving experience. If you can ever make it out to Poland to see Auschwitz I think it’s worth doing…although I would brace myself.

  • Pingback: Cherry Blossoms for Tolerance | Geoff Livingston's Blog

  • Pingback: The Bulgarian Principle | Geoff Livingston's Blog

  • http://www.shelirodney.com/cloudcomms Sheli Rodney

    This is so beautifully expressed Geoff. Even those of us who have had mainly positive experiences have not been immune to many of the scenarios you describe – over here in the UK too. I hope your daughter is able to feel a positive connection to her heritage, and to your ancestors who were willing to stand up and fight and create the ADL.

    (My maiden name is Levenson and we have distant Livingston cousins, so perhaps we’re even related.)

A New Novel from Geoff Livingston

Want news and an advanced copy of the book?
Your info is never shared

Work with My Company

Tenacity5 Media Logo

Buy Exodus for Just $0.99

You can buy the book from these vendors, including $0.99 on the Kindle store.

101 Things, a Bucket List

Pacific Sunset

Posts on Other Blogs

Vocus Marketing Blog
(2012-present)

Inspiring Generosity
(2011-2012)

Mashable
(2009-2011)

The Buzz Bin
(2006-2010)

Archives

Categories

My Photos

Nationals Stadium Sunset by Geoff Livingston
Bright Tulip by Geoff Livingston
Corinthian Columns in the Garden by Geoff Livingston
Lollipop Princess by Geoff Livingston
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate by Geoff Livingston
Devonshire Cow by Geoff Livingston
Devonshire Cow Painted by Geoff Livingston
Tonight's Moon by Geoff Livingston
Tonight's Moon by Geoff Livingston
Massive Cherry Blossom Tree by Geoff Livingston
Jason Jue at the Tidal Basin by Geoff Livingston