Senseless enmity

My father’s mother, a diminutive red haired religious woman with a brutal temper, used to snarl whenever my father and his little brother fought.  “Seenas Cheenam!” she would say, Yiddish for “senseless enmity!”   They lived in poverty impressive even by the desperate standards of the Depression, their mother openly hated their father, the larger older brother was regularly whipped in the face by his mother, the sickly younger brother was always pampered by that same mother.   Add it up and you get “Seenas Cheenam!”   

My father spoke very little of his deeply scarring childhood, except to point out from time to time that he grew up in “grinding poverty.”  That was the phrase he always used when comparing his lot to my sister’s and mine.  We also heard the phrase “Seenas Cheenam” often enough growing up that it sticks in my head.  I later learned Hebrew and the word cheenam means “free,” or “gratuitous,” if you will,  seenas being the Yiddishized version of the Hebrew seenat, hatred.   

Psychological insight into human behavior is not necessarily a widespread human characteristic.  Certainty, of course, is.  We like to be sure before we whip somebody that we are doing the right thing.  And so it was with my grandmother, an uneducated woman from a family soon to be murdered en masse, prone to fits of righteous rage, a woman who died young, of cancer, a few years before I was born.  The irony of her dismissing any reason the boys might be at each other’s throats in that sadistic experiment they grew up in is not lost on me.  Blaming her boys for being at each other’s throats for no reason was her way of being certain that she was always doing what was best, exactly what God wanted her to do.  Certainty is the human genius.

Before my uncle died (in a rehab center) he told his son and me that he had framed photos of our great grandparents in the house his son was selling.   We looked everywhere, didn’t find them, and, on a last pass through, before locking up the house for the last time after it was sold, I walked into the sun room.   There behind the wicker couch my demented aunt had secreted the almost life-sized portrait heads of my grandmother’s parents, in beautiful oval frames.  I could barely stand looking at them.   These two had created a monster of their youngest child, my father’s violently unlucky mother.  

I can only imagine the household that raises their youngest to whip her infant son in the face over and over.  I look at the face of her mother, in a photo taken before 1914 when my grandmother arrived here in the US.  I shudder.   The father looks a bit more human, though as I look a moment longer I start to cringe.  People who were being photographed for the only time in their lives tend to look stiff, and rigid, and perhaps not at their most natural in the photographer’s studio, but there is something about these two that gives me the creeps.  

It is the knowledge that they raised a girl who grew up to viciously take out her misery on her first born son, a toddler who grew up to be my father.  My father, though he did much better than his mother, also was unable to resist taking out his misery and his unslakable anger on his children.  He was not one to hit, but his brutal words, as he eventually admitted, were as harmful as any regime of slaps, punches or kicks could have been.

We don’t want insight, we want to be right.  Keep it fucking simple, you merciless asshole!  I am right, as my gut is telling me, as my muscular tension tells me, as the surge of fight/flight/freeze chemicals urge me, as my every justification fucking tells me!

My sister and I had a terrible fight almost thirty years ago when my niece was a toddler.  Frustrations from years of conflict flared up and I lost my temper.  So did my sister who began screaming for me to get out of her fucking house.  My niece said, from her highchair, “mom, stop screaming at Uncle Elie!”   Sides clearly had to be drawn more decisively, as they were over the years, until my niece and nephew were convinced not to communicate with their crazy uncle any more.  Right is right when it comes to seenas cheenam, you understand. 

What you can healthily accept — and what you must not

You can, and must, accept the imperfections and weaknesses of those you love.  It is easy enough to do.  We all have our faults and we all need to be accepted as the damaged souls we are.   We should also try to do better once we know that certain of our tics are hurtful to someone we love.  

Not everyone is capable of self-reflection and change, sadly, such things terrify some people.  But it’s important to the health and mutuality of intimate relationships to try to do both of those things, when needed.   Criticism from a loved one does not mean repudiation and rejection — it means you need to be aware of the hurtful effects of your actions on someone you care about.   You need to sometimes accept criticism from those you love, it may be fair or unfair, and it can be discussed, but it is brutal, and deadly, to angrily shut down any talk about it.

What you must not accept is blame for the imperfections, weaknesses and vices of those you love.  If the ultimatum below sounds familiar, and does not change no matter how calmly you manage to proceed, walk away:

“As long as you don’t ever criticize me, or show impatience, or raise your voice, or employ mean body language, as long as you accept everything I say as beyond dispute, we will remain dear friends forever.  Once you make me feel bad about myself, even one time, I will show you who the actual irredeemable asshole is in this equation.”

Rest assured that if they set those conditions, and insist on them, that they will make good on their threat, because, no matter how patient you might be able to remain most of the time, we all have our limits and will be pushed to them.  

Once you reach your limit, and start banging your head on the wall, as I found myself doing recently (actually, I picked up a small wooden stool and bopped myself in the forehead with it), the proof is now there for everyone to see — only an irredeemable asshole acts that way after only an hour or two of no-holds-barred conflict over who has a greater right to feel hurt for the last year and over what.

Somebody recently called me a saint because I’ve been trying to remain very patient with two, dear old friends in the face of this kind of ongoing ultimatum.  I told her “I am one very goddamned fucking angry saint, I can tell you for sure.”   While faintly amusing, it was also true.

If you can accept that you must remain eternally patient while those who feel criticized or challenged by you can show immediate anger whenever they feel desperate, I’m not sure what to tell you, except, perhaps, that you need to think it through again.  It is very, very hard, unthinkable, really, to leave people you love — there may be nothing harder to do.  Except, in my experience, it is even harder, and much more destructive, to cling to one-sided relationships where every conflict can only be stopped by assuming the entire fault for it and never again making the other person feel discomfort by talking about anything you need to resolve.  

The damage to yourself of accepting this kind of lack of mutuality is ongoing, and will never stop until you put a stop to it.  Once the cycle of blame, and who has a greater right to be aggrieved, sets in, you cannot change it on your end alone, no matter how sincerely you try to show love.  You must be blamed, and accept all fault, or be destroyed.  If you have friends in common, it will be necessary to destroy your good name among them as well.

It’s as hard as death itself to leave a long, loving relationship that has become corrosive, but harder still is living in a ruthless funhouse where honesty is discarded and angry desperation is turned relentlessly and implacably on you.  I grew up in a house like that, moved out when I was 17, many years ago.   The harm it did has been a long lifetime healing, as far as I have been able to heal.  The echoes of it, whenever I am made the focus of other people’s hurt and anger, extending to a tyrannical insistence that I simply stop fucking talking about what’s bothering me, have become impossible to bear.  

So I recognize now that I am in mourning, having finally, and with extreme reluctance, seen what a healthier person would probably have been able to observe a year ago, ten months ago, six months ago, last month.   It does nobody any kind of favor to carry the heavy cadaver of what was once a loving friendship around, hoping it will begin to breathe again, and smile, and thank you for having undying faith in resurrection.  

And just like physical death, or maybe even more so, the thought of a forever parting can feel unbearable, which is why we cling to things even after we’ve seen over and over they are not as they were.  Even after they have become intensely painful and impossible to stop pondering.

So, mourn I must, as I forgive my understandable slowness to take my leave from an unbearably painful situation.   The only alternative is pretending there is nothing to fix that can’t be fixed by simply not bringing up pain ever again and placidly accepting the entire fault for a deadly impasse I am at best 50% responsible for, and somehow accepting that doing those things will magically restore something, including trust, that is now irretrievably gone.

Accept all the blame and simply act like everything is fine again?   No can do.  Neither should you. 


Cults are held together by a strong, unquestionable shared belief.  If you faithfully embrace the leader’s vision, which simplifies and explains all mysteries of this perplexing world, a great psychic relief, you are happily accepted into the community of like minded folks.   Humans have practiced this form of social organization for as long as there have been humans.   There have been many kinds of cults over the centuries, some tiny, some enormous, some benign, others warlike.

In general, cults divide the world into the chosen and the excluded.   Outsiders who refuse to believe the truth that the cult embraces are most often seen as enemies.   It is Us against Them.  We are the enlightened few, the correct, the fully sighted.  They are the ignorant many, too stubbornly blind and proud to submit to the knowledge of the one true way.

In a microcosm, many families function as cults.   There is the dominant parent, or sibling, whose view of things is the truth in that family.  In the previous post I gave the example of a family of four who believed their mother/grandmother was nuts.   This explained perfectly why she was crying during the last Mother’s Day of her life, after her granddaughter had locked herself in her room in despair after being humiliated on the world wide web by her closest friends.  There was really nothing to discuss, the kid had a bad day, everyone was smiling now and everything was fine, the only problem being that grandma was nuts, which is why she was sobbing for no reason during what turned out to be the last get together with everyone closest to her in the waning days of her life.  Why else would she be crying?

Angry?  There is a perfectly good reason — your brother/sister/father/aunt is a fucking (fill in the blank.)  Would you put any evil or treachery past a malicious fuck like that?   We all agree on who’s right and who’s wrong here — except for that asshole.  Case closed.

In some families the entire story of interpersonal relations is explained through genetics and biochemistry.  Some people are born with a predisposition to depression, self-hatred, hypochondria, panic, anger, while others, the more fortunate, come fully loaded with a preponderance of genes that make them happy, content, self-contained, confident.   Just the luck of the genetic lottery, boys and girls, you could have gotten more of my wonderful genes, but you got more of the loser genes from the other contributor to your DNA.  So sorry.  You will be predisposed to suffer just like that poor soul, I wish there was something any of us could do to help.  Don’t bother with your theories of trauma, lack of support, etc.  it’s just your asshole genes trying to make excuses for not being able to get what you need in life, and your need to blame others for your shortcomings.

Cults often apply this kind of reductive reasoning to entire groups.  The cult that formed around Adolf Hitler in Germany between the world wars got a forceful answer to the cause of all of their troubles and how to fix them.  The cause of all human suffering, a worldwide cabal of powerful monsters who forced Germany into World War One, and then, after Germany was victorious on the battlefield, stabbed the German military and the German people in the back with a forced, humiliating surrender.  The way to fix it, of course, was to hang these traitors from every lamp post in Germany before they could rape more Aryan girls and further spread their hateful seed.  After the leaders were all dead you’d have iron-willed men collect the old, the children, women of childbearing age, any other males left alive and dispatch them to oblivion.  A dirty job, sure, and not for the weak, but necessary for the protection and preservation of the purest, most noble bloodline in the history of mankind.

Cult is a disparaging term when used by outsiders to describe a community of true believers.  It is a judgmental word that means people of a certain faith have substituted a flawed, sometimes even insane belief for any kind of rational discussion, ruled out the possibility of compromise of any kind with nonbelievers.   Can you persuade someone who passionately believes American liberals drink the blood of babies they rape that this is simply not so?  Good luck.  Cult to death cult is not an uncommon progression.   The leader says we are all going to paradise, all we have to do is fight like hell or we’re not going to have a paradise anymore!  Goddamn the inhuman enemy to hell!

Maybe I’m just so negative about cults because I’ve never found the one true cult to join.   There is that possibility, I guess.


My niece, when she was a toddler, began using the toilet to urinate.  She was hesitant to do the rest of her business there and her mother asked her why.   “It’s very dangerous!” my little niece apparently said, with great conviction.   The seriousness with which she delivered her answer made it a great laugh line in the family for many years, though we never learned what the actual danger was.   

The last Mother’s Day of my mother’s life, a week or so before she was taken to the hospice to die, was one of the saddest days I can remember.   Her daughter, my sister, had long been operating under the principle that our mother was “kookoo for Cocoa Puffs.”   The phrase harkens back to an ad for sugary cereal that ran for a while when we were kids.   The mascot, a very excitable cartoon bird, apparently a kookaburra (famous for its hysterically laughing call), went wild for the delicious cereal, bouncing off the walls and squawking “kookoo for Cocoa Puffs!” over and over as it freaked out.   Saying our mother was kookoo for Cocoa Puffs was a cute way of saying she was batshit crazy.   When my mother “lost” her wedding ring, her mother’s solid gold bracelet, the one with the little photos of our family lovingly cut out and pasted into sections of a little gold orb that opened and  expanded like an accordian, it was because she was kookoo for Cocoa Puffs.   When my mother was pissy that her daughter and grandchildren never thanked her for anything she bought them, same verdict.

During that last meal with the family, gathered around our dying mother’s kitchen table, many meaningful looks were shot behind the old woman’s back.  She’d say something and eyes would quickly roll, facial expressions would flash all around, silently and constantly, “phew, nuts, eh?”  My sister, her husband and her children were convinced of the old lady’s lost grip on reality.  She was nuts, and they humored her, if barely.In the end my mother started to cry, which they felt proved their point. 

I never found my mother to be the least bit nuts, except when she was in a situation where everyone was pretending.  That shit drove her crazy.  A week or two before she died, a new hospice nurse met her with a small group of hospice workers.  I heard them all laughing from my mother’s bedroom.  When the nurse came out, she said to me, with a big smile,  “whatever else you want to say about her, your mother is sharp as a tack.”

Meanwhile, before an early dinner on that final Mother’s Day, there had been a tense negotiation, for the hours leading up to that carefree meal, with numerous phone calls back and forth, due to a serious, ongoing suicide threat.  A door had been slammed and locked, wailing tears from within, nobody could reason with the inconsolable teenager who’d been humiliated on line, as teenagers are when their friends turn mean.   It had apparently been touch and go for a while, until finally the younger brother quietly talked his way into the room and was able to calm his sister down.   They arrived a few hours later, big smiles on all their faces, with Chinese take-out and the firm conviction that grandma was insane.   It was an excruciating experience.  A few days later a van from the hospice came and took my mother to her deathbed.

I have that same tic my mother had when faced with dishonesty, selectively poor memory, a failure to acknowledge when my feelings are hurt, an insistence that I’m crazy and the people insisting on my insanity are beyond criticism, no matter what they have to do.  After my mother’s funeral I mentioned a historical fact, someone’s prior marriage, that sent my sister into a frenzy.  She desperately made the slashing “ixnay!!! ixnay!!!” gesture across her throat to get me to stop talking.  The prior marriage was, for some reason, a humiliating secret that left my sister no choice but to lie to her daughter about it.   It upset me to be called a liar, and in my confusion I held my tongue.   The next day, when we spoke alone, my sister promised to clear things up afterwards, but put so many conditions on when and how, that it took over a year and then, she explained, the conditions were still never right.   After a year she was hurt and very angry that I still had an issue with being called a fucking liar.  A year!   My fucking insane brother only knows one thing — how to hold a fucking grudge.

My mother’s funeral was more than twelve years ago.  Now, in my sister’s mind — twelve fucking years later my brother is still upset that I inadvertently called him a fucking liar and that there was a slight delay in telling my children the demanding, judgmental asshole hadn’t lied.  Is there no statute of limitations on his insane, prosecutorial bullshit?  What about love?  What about fucking love?  My brother wouldn’t know love if it came up and lied to his face!

Call me kookoo for Cocoa Puffs, but to me love does not include a need to lie whenever necessary, a pass for all hurtful behavior, a license to do whatever you feel you need to do to someone else, whenever you feel hurt or upset, with a lifetime entitlement to unlimited, unconditional understanding, kndness and graciousness.  That’s something, we can all agree, but I’m not sure we can call it love.   

For one thing, it is a one way expectation, since the party insisting on it does not extend the same privileges of unlimited forgiveness to the other.  For another thing, without authenticity, what is there between two people?

Being authentic means being honest.  In an intimate relationship it means being honest while taking care with other people’s pain when they feel they’re not getting what they need from you.  To some people it hurts too fucking much to consider making themselves vulnerable that way.  They tend to believe that we all have our own perspective, our own reality, that nothing anyone you love says is necessarily true or false.  This essential solipsism is untouchably real to someone to whom the pain of rejection is much more terrifying than accepting that we are, on the most basic level, eternally unknowable to each other.   The price of maintaining this kind of solipsistic relationship is very high if you are so kookoo for Cocoa Puffs that you insist on difficult abstractions like honesty, apology when someone is aware they’ve hurt you and so on.   If you can’t love and forgive without conditions, they insist, you are not worth loving.

And, of course, they are completely right.  You certainly will never be able to convince them that they are not, since it is humiliating to them to ever admit being wrong or acting hurtfully.   You know them well enough to know what will make them tense up, set their faces, become cold, whenever they feel you are criticizing them.  You are prying open an unbearably painful primal wound, proceed in the face of resistance only if you want to end things.

Sometimes, even with your best efforts, relationships you love, that have long been a source of comfort and security, will end.  It can be very, very hard to move on, but sometimes it is necessary for everybody.   Sad, and true, as death itself.

Psych 101

Traumatic experiences in childhood often have long-term effects [1] on a person’s ability to trust, to form close bonds with others, to be honest. Let’s just apply a little psychology 101 to this needy disturbed, dangerous when wounded guy who’s constantly in the news.

His father was known to be a psychopath. He was a famously hard charging judgmental workaholic who parlayed millions of dollars in government grants and his own great business acumen, and willingness to take risks to keep and pass on every dollar of his money, into a billion dollar empire. The father had little use for his young fuck up son as he was grooming his charismatic oldest son to succeed him. Imagine the psychopathic father’s disappointment when he learned that his heir apparent was not a killer, didn’t have what it takes to take everything from everybody by constantly fighting to the death. So the much younger brother, an incorigible bully with limited smarts and very poor people skills, was eventually chosen and groomed to be a killer like Dad.

You don’t get much love from a psychopathic father, the best you get is approval when you carry out his orders. It’s a hard life for a sensitive young person.

When that sensitive young person was in his period of most intense need for his mother’s love and protection, before he was two, his cool, slightly distant and distracted mother became ill and was out of the house for many months, while her youngest son cried for her and got disgusted looks from psychopath dad when he got home from a long day of making the world in his image.

In other words, the time when this kid most needed love, understanding, appreciation and guidance, he was left alone and made to feel weak because of his whining. Is it hard to understand the kind of adult this hurt little boy would likely grow up into?

Imagine his relief a few years later when he got a younger brother, someone he could take out his frustrations on by tormenting every day. Kind of restored the little fucker’s belief in God.

Look at the rest of this now widely adored, widely despised, infamous, beleaguered rich reality TV star/F POTUS. You can draw a straight line from his early childhood injuries to his total war against anybody inclined in any way to contest his will.

And we are all, here in the United States and worldwide, much the poorer, and our lives much more precarious, than they were before this twisted creature came onto the world scene to prove to his psychopath daddy that he’s not a loser.



Demons, fear and reflexive distrust

There are demons within us all, stirring terrors too formidable to face unless we’re forced to.  They are extremely painful to confront, even when we’re aided by somebody who has the skills and gentleness to help.  My father, a man with more demons than most, and better reason than most to host so many of the merciless little fuckers, always stressed that everybody has his demons and that it’s impossible to know what to make of someone else’s demons.  Never truer, in my experience, than with my father.   

Although, towards the end of his life I came to understand the source of some of my father’s major demons:  regular childhood face whippings from his mother, daily hunger, excruciating, humiliating poverty, illiterate, defeated-by-life father, low expectations from his extended family, a feeling of shame for being stupid because he couldn’t learn to read — they only figured out he was legally blind when he was about eight and the brand new New Deal made it possible for him to have his 20/400 vision corrected with glasses (he went on to get a graduate degree in history).   If that’s not enough childhood pain to support a thriving colony of demons, I can only imagine what the rest of the story was.  At the very end of his life, he still believed he’d been the dumbest Jewish kid in the haunted small town he grew up in, by far.

Our most ferocious demons make us rage sometimes.   If someone touches one accidentally WATCH THE FUCK OUT!   Often, after losing your cool and lashing out, you feel embarrassed, particularly if the people you care about are victims of your anger.   If one of your demons is shame, it is humiliating to acknowledge that you did something wrong and hurt somebody. You will have developed strategies to not feel the burning of deep shame.  Better to get angry again, indignant over and over, than to feel mortified that you’ve hurt someone you care about for a weak reason, or no reason you can talk about.

You stop trusting the person you hurt, if they won’t shut up about their need to talk about what the hell happened, their need to put everything on the table.  If everything is laid out clearly, your understandable human weakness is exposed.  Weakness may be understandable to others, but it’s intolerable to you, because your demons will immediately start painfully sodomizing you for being imperfect, weak, capable of hurting others who, sometimes, maddeningly, refuse to pretend they weren’t hurt. 

If you’re vulnerable to the need to be perfect,  you’re in for a lot more pain than the average schmuck who can forgive herself for sometimes acting badly.   We all sometimes act badly, no matter how diligently we try not to hurt people we care about. 

The only way back to mutual care is through making amends and forgiveness.  Forgiveness takes place after the hurt is acknowledged, it can’t happen in any meaningful way if the person asking for forgiveness insists the other person is a pussy who simply can’t put the past in the past and insists on bringing up a painful situation that nobody can do anything about because it’s in the past, duh!  

Many people find it impossible to forgive themselves.  The hurt we suffered at our own hands can only be forgiven by being honest and gentle with ourselves.   It works with the self the same way it does with others.  We truly didn’t mean to hurt ourselves, acknowledge the accident, cure it with taking better care never to hurt ourselves that way again.   This doesn’t mean shutting ourselves off from others, it means accepting they we’re humans who do stupid things sometimes and there is no point whipping ourselves over them, much better to learn important life lessons from mistakes and avoid repeating the same bad pattern.

When you hurt somebody, and they tell you they’re hurt, listen to them, do not allow a demon you can’t control to jump in and angrily cut them off.  Understand why they were hurt, empathize, assure them you will do your best to not do that to them again.  The same goes for when we act in a way that hurts ourselves.  Unless you do yourself the kindness of letting yourself off the hook for dumb mistakes, the hook gets sharper and sharper, sinks in deeper and deeper.  In the end, that hook is never coming out.

The alternative to making amends is that the truth of hurtful past events becomes poison to you, and the one you hurt.  A clear recitation of the thing you can’t talk about is seen as an aggressive, threatening frontal attack.  You marshal your armies, but they have very little to work with in defending something that can only be defended by spraying ordnance wildly.  You accuse, express distrust, and fear, sprinkle in some regret, quickly followed by more anger, and tell them how merciless they are.   Direct questions can be uncomfortable, an assault. What can you say to something like: was anything I said inaccurate, unfair, unkind?  All you can do is hurl something back “you’re unfair and mean!”  Sometimes we are at fault, and if we never yield, do the same thing over and over, fight responsibility and the idea that we can change our behavior in any meaningful way, that’s about it for that relationship.

There is no genius mediator, supremely skilled at her job, who can fix that distrust, denial, anger and inability to forgive yourself enough to reach compromise with people you love, in a single short session where everyone gets a chance to express how they were hurt and the mediator makes sure each one knows they’ve been heard.   At least, I can’t picture that kind of alchemist mediator.   If there’s only mutual hurt and distrust going in, how does the process have a chance to heal anything?

Follow-up to a month of no reply

Since silence can be for many reasons, and is construed differently by different people, please let me know what your silence means.

If you simply don’t know what to say, let me know. This leaves open the possibility of future communications from me.

If your silence means “fuck off!” let me know. It is the courteous and considerate thing to do, you fucking fuck.

A lie is more powerful than the truth, if needed

When someone is desperate, they will cling to a lie with the religious fervor of a martyred saint.   The lie, you see, is their rock and their foundation.  Without it, they are humiliated.  The lie protects their good name, their true intentions, their very value as human beings.  The lie becomes essential to their integrity and they will defend it as though their life depends on it.

Take the example of a woman married to a criminal.  She has been shocked and angered over and over by his criminal acts and the lies he told her to conceal them from her.  It is humiliating to her that he has never acknowledged being wrong — every “crime” he ever did was for her sake —  or asked for her forgiveness, even when his crimes, and the lies surrounding them, destroyed her dreams at the moment they were about to come true.  

Think about this scenario for a second.  If she ever said aloud what I just wrote above, how could she live with herself?  She couldn’t.  So… the lie!  It’s not her husband, it’s her fucking brother the self-righteous, unforgiving prick who is judging and torturing her entire family, always a threat to blow the lid off decades of carefully guarded shame.   He can’t keep anything secret, his mouth is an open faucet, he doesn’t care who he hurts with his pernicious moral uprightness.   He self-righteously hides behind “truth” when all he wants is to hurt people and feel virtuous being a sadistic piece of shit.

How do the sister and brother retain a relationship in this hostile situation?  They talk about books, movies, a little celebrity gossip, dogs, some commiserating about the political cesspool we are all bobbing in, their health.  Everything else, everything personal and important, is off the table.  The lie that her brother is a liar remains undisturbed. 

The brother tolerates this the best he can, which often is not very well.  His name is assassinated, since he is a threat to the children if he starts fucking blabbing and telling his precious “truth” to the kids.  The kids must be kept away from a destructive agenda-driven fuck like that. 

On the other hand, the brother must remain eternally patient, hopeful and generous.  If he ever shows frustration, or, god forbid, anger, he has shown his hand, proved the case against him and that’s the ballgame, ladies and gentlemen.

And so it goes.  You could say that a lie, if desperately needed, is more powerful than the truth.

Making amends

Making amends is trying to fix something that’s broken. If a guest’s bone gets broken, as a result of you accidentally placing a stumbling block in a place that resulted in a fall and broken bone, making amends might be contritely driving the person to the hospital to have the broken bone treated. It might be helping the person while they are hindered by the broken bone. It should include assuring the person that you will do your very best to make sure never to put a dangerous obstacle where they can trip over it and get hurt.

It doesn’t seem to me that making amends with somebody you have hurt is all that hard. Unless you consider that you must take responsibility for the pain you caused, which makes you vulnerable, which puts you at risk of being rejected by the person you are trying to make amends with. Making yourself vulnerable is the price of trying to make amends. It is also the price of meaningful friendship.

I understand it may seem a fearful price to some, but it is hard for me to understand how to retain a facade of friendship with a person who is incapable of acknowledging the pain they cause. Fake friendship with people I can no longer trust is not for me.

It is particularly hard to do during this time of year when we Jews are instructed to make amends, to speak the truth, to move beyond lies that people tell to make themselves feel righteous, instead of ashamed, when they are wrong and continue to act badly.

I understand that some people are weak, damaged and desperate to be right at any cost. If the cost is my friendship, so be it, I suppose. As long as they refrain from assassinating my good name among mutual friends. The inability to behave with emotional maturity confers no right to kill.