Gloria’ Steinem's insight: This moment -- Peril & Promise

Photo shows  Rabbi David Saperstein, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Reb Arthur, Gloria, & Dr. Dan Gottlieb

When Gloria Steinem and I celebrated turning 80 together, at the gathering The Shalom Center sponsored she said something that has stuck with me these two years and more: “Our whole society right now is living at the moment when an abused wife walks out the door. It is the moment of greatest danger, because an abusive husband may respond with extreme violence – even murder. It is also the moment of greatest possibility: In a battered women’s shelter or other forms of community, she can create both safety and her own freedom.” Today , many abused communities have walked out the door: --

  • The Black Lives Matter movement has broken “the rules” of apathy toward police violence, and on many campuses the students have also broken “the rules” of silence toward softer forms of racism.
  • Women and GLBTQ people are refusing to stay “in their place”: they are breaking the silence about rape, and trans-gender reality has surfaced.
  • Young undocumented immigrants defy the law by creating the Dream movement.
  • Muslims who had lived invisibly in America are challenging Islamophobic arsons against mosques and audaciously expressing concern for Muslim communities in peril overseas, urging that the US welcome refugees from tyranny and terrorism.
  • Workers who were supposed to shut up and take it when they were forced to work overtime for a pittance and sometimes had their wages stolen, are going on strike, and often winning.
  • Mother Earth herself is rebelling with superstorms and hyperdroughts against the Carbon Pharaohs that by burning fossil fuels are burning our planet, our common home.

And we face an embittered backlash of even worse abuse, which has reached its climax in Trump and Trumpism–-  publicly expressing –

  • disgust for women,  culminating in outright violence and financial attacks on women’s health centers;
  • contempt and hatred for Blacks and Mexicans;
  • fear and hatred for Muslims and Islam;
  • hostility to workers who “are already paid too much” and for their unions;
  • willingness to beat up a nonviolent protester.

Right before our eyes, a proto-fascist movement worshipping its Leader. Gloria was right. Great promise, great peril. I am delighted that she told that truth at a Shalom Center celebration. I am delighted that The Shalom Center carries the best prophetic values of ancient Torah into our world. I am delighted that we are awake to new meanings of Torah and of other spiritual traditions in our day.  I am delighted that we are creating ideas and actions to make community and stand alongside the rising, rousing women, GLBTQ folk, Black activists, immigrants and refugees, Muslims, and Earth herself.-- . And I hope you will honor this moment and the ideas and actions we create,  to turn great peril into great promise. Please click on the  “Donate” button on the left-hand margin of this page. Thanks!


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