Monday, March 23, 2020

Freedom of individual

I can’t believe that it’s been already year since I posted last time.
I wrote few essays since then and this is one of them. I titled it “Freedom of individual” as B-H I hope to write separate essay on topic of Personal Freedom – the Freedom achievable only by progressing control over our body and heart, guided by commandments of Torah.
Below some words about Freedom of Individual or citizen if you will.

A street of a European city, could be day, could be after dusk. Four or five story buildings, some trees on the edge of the sidewalk. Streets paved with cobblestones, sometimes smooth on the surface sometimes corrugated as they came straight from the riverbed.
And then the steps. First quiet but then louder and louder as the somebody walking on the sidewalk progresses quietly closer toward a rhythmic sound. He can’t turn back, he knows, this would put him in danger. Now we see the boots and then persons marching with weapons on their shoulders.
Then loud command – Ausweis bytte, Papiren.
Man and woman are showing ID’s, but it doesn’t end there.
One of the soldiers or policemen are sniffing trough the belongings of the person who a minute ago was walking minding his or her own business but now he/she is a suspect. For a petty crime, it can end with a jail sentence or even worse.
This is a common scene from many movies that I remember watching as a child depicting the Nazi occupation of Poland. This is how it was described to us, born a few decades after the war.
Millions of people were still around who remembered those years of the German fascist invasion.
When in December 1981 the Polish communist government instituted a State of War up on Polish the population, these scenes came to our lives as a generational Deja Vue.
There was no doubt in our mind that we had a Nazi like regime reincarnated and now dressed in the Polish uniforms, asking for our ID in our native language, just as original Nazis sniffing through our belongings.
After major riots in the cities, patrols were walking in groups no less the five, two police and three soldiers, in fear of their own population.
I will never forget the scene which I observed from the city bus on the way back from school.
The bus stopped to pick up some passengers, and in the tall grass separating the road from the sidewalk, a few boys, aged less than ten, were shooting from their sticks toward such patrol.
The whole bus, the whole street burst with laughter. But in less than minute it was in the air, people felt sorry for the young officers protecting the regime from the hate of the population. Kind of a hate – pity situation.
Seventeen days after the Nazis entered Poland from the west, the Red Army took the entire eastern Poland as it was agreed between Hitler’s and Stalin’s diplomats.
Lvov was a capital of eastern Galitzia and now become a Soviet city.
Under communist rule every citizen is supposes to work, not necessarily in the profession acquired or practiced in the past. Rabbis definitely didn’t have it easy under an atheist government, so they got a profession which was fitting them somehow or if they got some ‘protektzia’ then some easier job.
Rabbi Shlomo Helbershtam, son of Bobover rebbe and after the WWII Bobover rebbe himself, got that kind of easy profession – a factory guard. His job was to check workers ID as they were entering the factory as it is a practice in many large businesses until today.
Soon, the local population learned the soviet ways of life, stealing became a widespread practice, including stealing from the factories and places of work.
Reb Shloime was asked by his supervisors to check the belongings of some workers leaving the premises of the factory after work hours. The Bobover rebbe refused as he saw such behavior humiliating and inhumane.
He didn’t learn this idea from Voltaire or Kant, it was not a “humanism” where he was rooted in his ethics.
It was the Toira which he learned from his father and grandfather and all the way to the Moishe and Avruchom.
Freedom and personal dignity is a fundamental Jewish value, indispensable and equal for all G-ds creations. It is a first condition to even think about service of the Creator as a Jew and as a Goy.
We will not dwell in this place about chalachic ramifications of basic minimums given in historic environment. We are talking about the idea given first at the time of creation, and then again as an introduction to Atzeres Hadibres – The Ten Commandments.
The idea of personal freedom and human dignity was obvious for the Bobever rebbe, for some – this backward Jew from a small town in an even more backward Galitzia, Poland.
Not long ago, I was sitting by a table with bunch of my fellow Americans talking all the things Americans talk about. I still don’t know much about Baseball or Football, but I was always hoping that on the other hand, sharing ideas of American political and social system written in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution will do.
Then topics switched to security, and as I was quiet before for lack of knowledge about sports, now I was just stunned listening where we hold as a society.
For my fellow Americans it was fine when the police stop and frisk… as long as this is not one looking like one of us. It was ok to look in your pockets when you enter an office building, because who knows.
It was ok to take the belt off of your pants in the middle of airport, because…I don’t even know!
I was horrified that no one is even hinting how to build a society where no one is in need of ‘protection’.
No one analyzed why do we need this ‘protection’, everybody just knew from whom do we need it – from enemies of our freedom.
You don’t have a freedom when security government can listen to your conversations and look in to your correspondence.
Communists in Poland under the Martial law were at least informing us that your conversations are under surveillance. Here, the person who informed us about surveillance became a political refugee!
You don’t have freedom if the cops can look in your pockets!
You don’t have freedom if TSA can put you in situation where you don’t know what to hold, your falling pants or your suitcase that is soon to be checked.
You don’t have freedom if you deny the same privilege to people living in your or other countries.
And no! They don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us because we normalize taking their freedom away.
I will even go further.
There is no freedom if we can’t protect the wellbeing of our citizens, and by wellbeing, I mean their health and sometimes lives.
We don’t have a freedom if we can’t educate our children to prepare them to be contributing members of society, there is no freedom if we cannot do it using our school taxes in the way we wish.
And no, no parent will send a kid to the school teaching anything against the wellbeing of the general society, be it a religious or secular school.
There is no freedom of an individual or a society, if work of the government is not reflecting wishes of “we the people”. Instead every politician on every level of government is only looking how to appease the donor class which by Darwinian nature, protects only their own interest.
No freedom there.
Instead I was sitting there with my fellow Americans listening to ideas of betterment of methods of security.
Only… what is there to protect and secure?

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