Faith in Action

Hilton Head’s election season: A time to stand for truth and decency and against hate

Brad Bloom
Brad Bloom

In the 1960s, the rock group The Byrds paraphrased verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes when they sang; “To every thing, turn turn turn. There is a season, turn turn turn. A time for every purpose under heaven.”

The season of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, are right around the corner beginning Sept. 9. This is a time for deep reflection and admitting mistakes in our behavior, a time to ask for and grant forgiveness, a time for reconciliation and renewal.

The high Holy Days provide us with 10 days to deliberate on our own and with God directly to face our inner conflicts. It is a season for honest conversation about many topics, especially those related to our community.

The mayor’s race is beginning to percolate, and there is a serious question waiting regarding one candidate who allegedly traffics in literature that aims to dismantle the Holocaust from the world’s memory. How can we reconcile that scenario with our values as Americans?

We in the Jewish community are expected to ask difficult questions and be truthful about our shortcomings. We believe God wants us to rediscover the better side of ourselves. That is why this season of the year requires us to engage in repentance or literally to return to God.

I oppose silence and indifference against those who traffic in hatred. Silence in the face of someone else’s bigotry and hatred only reinforces more hatred.

Hatred is a powerful emotion, but, indifference is an even more potent in human nature. I stand with the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, who said, ”The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Does indifference exist in our blessed community about this year’s election of a mayor in Hilton Head? I believe that the victims of hatred have a right to be remembered.

Holocaust revisionists aim to destroy the memory of the victims so that future generations will not know the truth about the horrific crimes or the victims of hatred.

The memory of people who were killed by the Nazis, or any other people murdered by evil forces, calls out to us. How shall we answer them?

I believe in the memory of my dad’s generation who fought the Nazis and who liberated the concentration camps. They died on the shores of Utah Beach, in the Battle of the Bulge, and in the countless towns and nations throughout Europe. Were they liars, too? Are we supposed to besmirch their sacrifices and their heroism for America?

If we give credibility to websites and the merchants of falsehoods who spread their lies without any respect for our veterans’ service, then how can we preserve the society that the Greatest Generation bequeathed to us?

I believe that hatred is a chameleon in that it can disguise itself in the uniforms of the Nazis or the robes of the Klan or the suits of Syrian leaders who are committing genocide against their own citizens. The names change. The outfits change, but the hatred is the same.

The means of death may change — lynching, gassing, incineration — but the inner motivation of disdain for human life is always the same.

We should remember this adage: “Pray as if everything depended on God, but act as if everything depended on you.”

This is the clarion call that demands a community’s response.

The Byrds’ song includes these lines: “A time for love, a time for hate, a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”

It is also a time for action rather than indifference. And a time for memory.

The election season is one for standing up and saying “no” to any candidate who traffics in deception, who deals in deceit and who trades in fabrication and fakery.

Let’s elect a mayor who can build not only bridges and pave roads but who also can unify a community and not divide it.