Free as We Want to Be

We’re as free as we want to be. Perhaps it’s a trite statement, yet with the Fourth of July holiday upon us, I cannot help but consider it.

Freedom is a choice. At least for those of us that are fortunate enough to live in countries where we aren’t punished for speaking our mind in private conversation or online. You need only look at Turkey’s ongoing crisis to realize that free speech is not certain in this world.

Yet many of us don’t feel free. We feel trapped by the rat race, that we’re not engaging enough online. We feel like we should meet preached expectations of social media success.

Some fear being viewed as positive or negative, or having our personal views and feelings exploited by friends, family, employers, and yes, the government. Others of us feel like we’re suffering through litanies of rants and negativity while desperately seeking meaningful connectivity.

Government and big business offer their own dangers, perhaps taking away our rights to privacy. In recent months we’ learned that our social network conversations are compromised via the NSA’s PRISM programs. The major social networks have a council of censors or free speech advocates (depending on your perspective) that decide what conversations should and should not be taken off the Internet.
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Antisemitism in the United States

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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.
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