Election 2016: Now What?

Dear Friends,

Election 2016 (and the years of escalating acrimony that preceded it) has shaken our core beliefs about ourselves and our country. Across our nation, we’ve lost a sense of shared values about what it means to be an American, to live in the United States, and how to be great in the 21st century. Political leaders defined opponents as the “other” while touting fallacies as truths. We heard them, and we believed them. Why? Because we don’t talk with each other.

Now, we are left with a fractured American identity, fictionalized realities that breed stereotypes—and tribalism that is too often rooted in our religious, ethnic and social differences. But there is an antidote: listening to one another.

We haven’t been doing much of that lately. Instead, we’ve heard people talking over one another, loudly declaring their truths and demonizing those who are different. The result was predictable. Right now, we find ourselves in separate camps – women and workers; Hispanics, Blacks and whites; Jews, Christians and Muslims; the alt-right, the passionate populists and the progressives.

So this is a moment of choice. We can remain among our tribal comrades and view others as a threat. Or, we can find our way out of the pit.

One place to start is with dialogue. All too often dismissed, engaging in deep exploration with someone of opposing beliefs can be a more courageous act than taking up arms. It can arouse deep-seated issues of identity, vulnerability, and a sense of being wronged. And it can also open up possibilities for understanding.

This election has left our nation battered. Now, we need to find ways to move forward, to find ways to cooperate and, at the very least, to practice tolerance of one another. One way is to adopt listening as our civic duty – not necessarily to agree, but to hear others and reject dehumanization. Really hearing one another can be an act of compassion, and a practical and potent weapon for change. It is a way back to respect

At Tanenbaum we think of it this way. Tolerance is our bare minimum. Respect for the humanity in each of us is our vision. And if “we the people” take the first step, start talking with each other and recognize our shared humanity, perhaps our leaders will follow.

With ears open,

Joyce S. Dubensky

Anti-Semitism declining, yet a proliferation of online hatred: Top 5 News Stories

Anti-Semitism on downward slide but still rampant online • France stands by veil ban after riots •  As a Religion, Marijuana-Infused Faith Pushes Commonly Held Limits Scientology case has judges debating the meaning of religion • Religious Progressives Predicted To Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Find

Last week's top stories, from our perspective:

Anti-Semitism on downward slide but still rampant online
The Anti-Defamation League’s study of anti-Semitism in the U.S. shows a 14 percent decrease in incidents during 2012, the second consecutive year of a downward trend. But the ADL report also showed a proliferation in the U.S. of some expressions of anti-Semitism, including vandalism, online expressions of hatred toward Jews, and anti-Jewish hostility on college campuses — where the ADL says anti-Israel sentiment too often has turned anti-Semitic.

The recent decline in anti-Semitic incidents contrasts to findings in many Europeans countries, where anti-Semitic incidents continue to rise. In France, for example, the Jewish Community Security Service recorded 614 anti-Semitic acts in 2012, compared to 389 in 2011 — a 58 percent jump. (Photo credit from Religion News Service)


France stands by veil ban after riots
France's interior minister on Monday defended a ban on wearing full-face veils in public after a police check on a Muslim woman caused two nights of rioting near Paris, exposing tensions in immigrant-heavy suburbs.

The 2010 law was brought in by conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy and targets burqa and niqab garments that conceal the face.


As a Religion, Marijuana-Infused Faith Pushes Commonly Held Limits
The founder of the Hawai’i Cannabis THC Ministry is asking a federal court to define religion, something the courts would prefer to avoid. His Religion of Jesus, Mr. Christie wrote, holds that sacramental marijuana use is “a God-given right, as told to us in the Bible in Genesis 1:29, in which it says, ‘Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant’ ” Other tenets of the faith include, “Our religion does not believe in going to war” and, “Our ministers are required to use a hemp-cloth shawl for ceremonies and prayer.”

As of now, the government does not recognize the Religion of Jesus or its use of sacramental marijuana.


Scientology case has judges debating the meaning of religion
And in a similar case in the UK, a couple hoping to marry in the Church of Scientology have five supreme court justices wrestling with what constitutes worship and whether Scientologists may conduct weddings.


Religious Progressives Predicted To Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Find
A new study has found that while the number of religious conservatives is still greater than that of progressives, the religious left may have a better chance of maintaining its foothold with Americans over time.

"If you’re using a generational snapshot today as a proxy for the future, it is is safe to say that religious progressives hold a stronger appeal among Millennials," said Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, which surveyed 2,000 adults in partnership with the Brookings Institute.