Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Reprisal

Dictionary.com’s definition of reprisal is the following: (in warfare) retaliation against an enemy for injuries received, by the infliction of equal or greater injuries. It goes on to define, the forcible seizure of property or subjects in retaliation.

The research I have uncovered most recently in preparation for my next book has furnished the word reprisal. While the US is in disputes with various countries, we are not in the midst of a declared war. As a result, we don’t see or hear this word very often.

During World War II, one of the many reasons why Jews and other captives generally did not attempt escape or brutality toward captors was the fear of reprisal. When one captive hurt or killed a soldier, killing in retaliation would take place. One of the authors I’m reading (Martin Gilbert) estimates 1200 deaths of reprisal to one escapee or injured Nazi.

All of this causes me to wonder about what we do to others out of reprisal. Cutting someone off on the road who has tailgated you or done something similar surely constitutes reprisal. Refraining from writing to someone who hasn’t written or emailed you in some time is reprisal. Putting your child on timeout simply because you had a rough day and can’t handle his behavior is reprisal.

Someone hurting you doesn’t give you license to hurt anyone else. Yes, it’s pretty obvious that it is never acceptable to do intentional damage to someone. But the point is to examine our motives in terms of our actions toward others.

One of the countless truths I’ve learned from my husband is the wisdom of giving others the benefit of the doubt. If he hasn’t heard from someone, he speculates that the other person has been busy or ill. In all of our years together, I have never seen him get angry while driving, much less committing acts of reprisal. The example is an excellent one for all of us to follow.

These days, we have few occasions to worry about reprisal in terms of acts of war or violence. But retaliation and reprisal are probably more common than we realize. Once we consider the examples and symbols of reprisal throughout history, it becomes clear that injuring someone because someone injured you is simply unacceptable. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

The words we use

If you are at all like me, you have the occasion to visualize someone from your past for no particular reason. From there, you recollect one or more conversations with that person.

Sometimes you may be able to reconstruct those chats, completely or in part. Sometimes you simply can’t remember what was said by you or the other party. But what if somehow you had the ability to recover whatever part of whatever communication you wanted?

I’m not talking about some kind of voodoo or magic. But let’s imagine for just a quick second that you could go back to any time and place you choose. The reason for going back there is to remember precisely what was said.

The first step might be the venue. It could be a graduation or wedding ceremony an interview, a first date, or an accidental encounter. Maybe it was last week or maybe it was nineteen years ago.

Once that is established, the other party may or may not be a given. If I consider my college graduation, for instance, there were at least two or maybe three people there to celebrate the occasion. What I am seeking is the exchange of words between those present and me.

You may choose to delete a particular day or place and simply relive the experience of being with someone in particular. It may be an afternoon or an evening that you spent with someone who has since passed away.

The chances are pretty good that multiple have, do, and will think of you and the words you shared. We can’t control recollections of the past but we can certainly control remembrances of those conversations that we are having or are going to have.

My recommendation to students is never to say anything that they want to retract. While I hope that those who remember me recollect the good words I’ve uttered, I can’t guarantee it. All I know for certain is that since I’ve learned the importance of choosing speech carefully, I hope that I haven’t created an unpleasant recollection for anyone. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

House on fire

Reorganizing my bookshelves today, I rediscovered a treasured book that offers hundreds of suggestions on subjects for writing efforts. It’s my blessing that I seldom have trouble identifying subjects that are worthy of pursuing in this blog but the book is provocative and extremely interesting.

The one that I seized for this moment has to do with a fire starting in your home and the need to select one item that you could take with you. Thankfully, I have never had to survive a fire so I cannot speak from experience on this subject. And while I would like to believe that I would have an opportunity to grab more than one thing as I left a burning house, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.

It’s not an easy endeavor. My first thoughts were the pictures of my family. More than anything else in the home, these pictures can never be duplicated. Second was my purse. It has my wallet and critical pieces of identification. The cash isn’t a consideration – while I never have much cash, the banks and other companies would ultimately provide access to whatever finances I need or would need after leaving the house.

My next thought was my jewelry box. It contains treasures that I could never replace, either legacies or gifts. The bedroom (and jewelry box) are closer to the front door but the unknown becomes, where is the fire most serious and requiring the greatest amount of avoidance? The advantage of taking one item from the bedroom is that there is a door to the back yard, seldom used but certainly available in a fire.

After I examined these three choices, the last is the most obvious to anyone who has known me for more than ten minutes. That which has the greatest and most incalculable value is my laptop. My published book and its successor are there, as well as another book in progress to which I have probably dedicated several hundred hours.

We can hope that I will never need to make such a decision and that a house fire is nowhere in my future. But as I submit the idea to you, it’s an inquiry that I believe is absolutely worthwhile. What do you need to preserve more than anything else. Needless to say, spouses and children are excluded from the exercise because their safety is paramount.

But after that, what do you want to save? What can’t you replace? It becomes a commentary on that which is part of your bank account versus part of your heart. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

The right thing

One of the expressions that I use constantly, both inside the classroom and in the rest of the world, is that you never need to apologize for doing the right thing. I have dedicated quite a bit of my thoughts to this subject. Near as I can tell, I created it while many have issued variations of it throughout history.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is much more difficult than doing what’s easy or convenient or undetectable. This may be taking responsibility for an action that wasn’t necessarily committed by you, for the sake of leaving another party blameless. If, for instance, you are in a parking lot and see someone accidentally drop some trash, you pick up said trash and dispose of it. Or a child leaves the classroom door open and you suggest that maybe it was your omission.

This doesn’t mean that you need to continue exempting others from the actions that they completed; it’s simply taking the blame for some liabilities that may have a negative impact on the one involved.

In other cases, while it may seem unusual to refrain from apologizing for doing the right thing, sometimes our beliefs drive those decisions. You contribute to the political party of your choice when those closest to you support the other party. Or you vote for the candidate of your choice while others hold that candidate in low esteem. Being true to your principles is the process of doing the right thing.

All of this is the same as not apologizing to any one at any time for being who you are. It doesn’t matter how you got there, how many feel otherwise or what you excluded to be in the position that you occupy. Doing the right thing is as personal a choice as there is, not subject to justification or rationalization. Always do what you feel is the best choice and most likely, it will be the morally and philosophically correct path to take. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Promises

As an observer of the world around me and the people in it, I am frequently intrigued by the seriousness of the word “promise.” My students are taught from an early age that promising is never to be done casually or without complete intent to fulfill that promise.

I haven’t identified the origins of the “pinkie promise,” but if you and someone else lock pinkies, you are both solemnly committed to completing your end of the commitment. Having been asked to participate in this type of oath, I am happy that we are successful at teaching our young people about the importance of keeping their words.

Are we Americans faithful about being true to our pledges? Marriage vows generally include statements about fidelity and respect, yet we see frequent spousal abuse, infidelity, and abandonment. Every time I see someone burning a US flag, I shudder. For all my life, I have promised and will continue to promise to defend that flag and have nothing but disdain for those who do harm to it.

And on it goes. We are going to build a wall. No we’re not. We are going to send money to those who are without income and resources to feed their families. No, we need a month’s recess. The adults who should be demonstrating the urgency of being true to their words are failing to do so.

When I tell my students that they will have the opportunities to do craft projects, I must make certain that those projects materialize. Likewise, if I promise a treat, that must also come to pass. Our actions must verify that our words are to be believed or nothing is ever going to be believable.

Someone named Rodd Thunderheart once said, “A man’s only as good as his word.” Sadly, I don’t know who Rodd Thunderheart is or what drove him to the observation. But a more reliable and familiar source also tell us, “A man is only as good as his word,” and this is Proverbs 20:6, Hebrews 13:8.

Beyond that, I prefer this quote from someone named Marie Forleo. She says, “To be responsible, keep your promises to others. To be successful, keep your promises to yourself.”  As I contemplate the subject of promises, I must agree that we begin by making and keeping promises to ourselves. Once we are adept at that, keeping promises to others is likely to be our standard practice. Shalom.

Holocaust · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Peace

Falling asleep recently, the word “peace” kept echoing in my head, demanding my attention. It’s pointless to wonder how I am presented with a concept or an image in this way. Maybe I am accustomed to receiving writing inspiration and have learned to recognize its value and significance.

In any case, I began to think about peace as it applies to my world. Has our world stopped seeking peace and working toward its realization? In our current US climate of political turmoil and angry bravado, most of what we hear is conflict. As one person, I have little power to create peace outside my immediate sphere but maybe that’s the best place to start.

The process of establishing and perpetuating a personal peace is a method of proving that a more widespread and popular peace is truly realistic. We can all actively minimize our own stress rather than catapulting it into the outside world.

Here’s how it works. You’re driving and someone thoughtlessly cuts you off. To main civility, instead of cursing or honking, take a deep breath and smile sweetly. Someone else is discourteous as you’re doing your grocery shopping. The best response is to invite a shopper to get ahead of you to check out. Or ask someone if he or she needs any help, to lift something or put groceries in the car.

Doing acts of kindness is easily accomplished. Because it’s win-win, one of the byproducts is a sense of accomplishment. Creating good makes you feel good and promotes peace. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you are more inclined toward that state of mind that any other. May peace (Shalom) be with you.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Two papas – a tale of impossible Holocaust survival

Following is the synopsis of my new book, released this week. Book is available in paperback or Kindle format. If you enjoy the book, I will greatly appreciate your writing a review and sending the link to someone you know with whom you want to share my work. Here is the link:

Two papas: a tale of impossible Holocaust survival.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/BO8G3PGK41/ref=cm_cm_sw_r_sms_api_XUPpFb3XK9JNX

Two papas – tale of impossible Holocaust survivals is a twentieth-century story of hope, determination and vision. A baby girl is born in a Nazi death camp and she is hidden and raised by her two papas. They live through their Treblinka imprisonment and escape to begin a new life. Her partner will spend two years in a Warsaw attic to avoid Nazis who have destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto, making the city unsafe for Jews. Finally, they meet and find love in Soviet-occupied Warsaw. Together they relocate to Israel and create a family in settings that are removed from hate, oppression and terror. Their survivals become a tribute to faith in God, the powerful will to prevail and strength of the human spirit.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Growing forward

How old were you when people stopped asking what you wanted to be when you grew up? The question changes as you add years to your life but the older we become, the more prevalent the belief that we no longer need to wonder about our dreams.

Now I am thinking that we need to ask ourselves frequently, regardless of our ages, what we want from life that we don’t have. The reasons why our goals are unrealized can be simple or complex. But I suggest that aspiring to something (anything) is healthy, productive and quite rewarding.

Let’s back up a bit. When we entered college, many of us were quite focused about our career aspirations. In my case, I was determined to become a high school literature teacher. Some of that came to pass although I admit to having flirted with anthropology, journalism and law school.

While we may not need to make similar decisions later in life, not having to make a choice of careers doesn’t mean the same as mentally retiring. If your job doesn’t make you happy, what kind of activity would? Maybe you have always wanted to raise cocker spaniels. Maybe you wanted to grow orchids. Or maybe you’ve wanted to run a marathon.

All or any of those are aspects of growing forward (self-actualization, if you prefer). It often has nothing to do with money. In other words, you might not need a multi-acre estate to have a kennel. Most likely, you can do it on a smaller scale. Raising orchids would probably require less capital. And as far as running a marathon, it may be advisable to begin with a 5K or 10K before you tackle 26 miles.

What do you want to do or be when you grow up, whether it’s 20 years or 20 days from now? It is a better time to think of growing forward rather than growing up. This may be the best chance you will have to fill your life with puppies instead of regrets. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Check your sources

Several weeks ago, I ordered a book written by the famous author and storyteller, Sholom Aleichem. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, think of Fiddler on the Roof and you are in the right space. The book that I acquired was a collection of Aleichem’s stories that were expansions of the Fiddler tale and it is filled with wisdom, suggestions and quite a bit more.

As you might expect, the stories center around Tevye, the central and arguably most memorable character in the famous play and movie. But Tevye is a man worth knowing for many reasons. He is forthright about being of humble means  – he works hard for a living and often worries about his finances. This status is likely exacerbated by the fact that he describes his wife as not very smart and they share seven daughters.

Here’s what I value most about Tevye, other than his unabashed and unending dedication to his wife and family. Tevye believes that a man is incapable of being believed unless he liberally quotes the Torah (the Bible or Old Testament), the Talmud (explanatory/descriptive commentaries on the Bible) and Rashi, a well-known and highly respected French Biblical scholar.

My best guess is that most of us don’t use these as resources for the majority of work that we create, share or publish. But there is a message that I truly appreciate. If you are going to make a statement or take a position, make certain that your sources/resources are entirely credible and legitimate. Although you may never use religious texts as sources for your work, Tevye doesn’t think that you can do any better.

Life was quite a bit simpler in Tevye’s time, as he drove his horse and wagon to town to sell his milk, cheese and eggs. But the logic is impeccable and irrefutable. If I am receiving my guidelines from God, I cannot imagine anyone who would be so bold as to doubt my credentials. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Editors

One of my greatest amusements or frustrations is seeing how many typographical or grammatical mistakes prevail in the world. As an editor and writer, I confess to being more aware and potentially more sensitive. But almost daily, I see areas where the general public should employ the services of an editor and do not, for reasons I will never understand.

A very good one had to do with two celebrities who have been extremely public about their relationship. The article described them as being, “…attacked at the hip.” While that conjures some interesting images, it is clear that they were attached, not attacked.

One of the local TV news stations has come up with some interesting mistakes. They described a nearby community as “Bernallilo” instead of the correct “Bernalillo” and I am certain that the locals of that community were not happy.

And in another case, I saw some news coverage of a local movement that described a “Buisness” instead of “Business” that was open. Do any of these have lasting significance? Probably not. But every time I see one, I think of my dad’s favorite statement, “Any job worth doing is worth doing right.” Another local one that I just saw was the blatantly incorrect use of the objective case when the subjective case was needed: “To whomever was shooting off fireworks.”

If you are one of those who are shy or tentative or disinterested enough to enlist the services of a competent editor, I wish you all the best. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in releasing something that says I was not careful or thorough or concerned. My services are always available to you, as are thousands of other editors who have become readily available, thanks to online access.

Another worthwhile expression crosses my mind: You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. If you take the extra minute and dollars to see that your work is accurate, you will make a first impression that is editorially correct. That must be worth something. Shalom.