Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's Not Always About You

Warning: This is about as politically incorrect as I get.

There is a girl in one of my classes. The class is basically a survey course on Western philosophy, the girl is smart and studious. Sounds fine, right? Well... The girl is also African American, no biggie. (Columbia may not be the most diverse place on this planet but this is no surprise.) This otherwise nice and intelligent girl does something I cannot stand: she insists on making EVERYTHING we read about slavery and oppression. Now, I understand that these issues may be a big deal for her and I don't think there's anything wrong with discussing them, but quite frankly Kant and Hume didn't care all that much about slavery and that's not what they're about. And it's frustrating to me that instead of studying the theory as a whole, she ends up focusing on a small issue and missing the point; seeing the trees and not the forest, if you will.

End of politically incorrect part.

Though I do wonder if we as Jews often do the same thing. We focus on news and elections and politics and current events and only say, "Is this good for us?" "Is this good for Israel?" And while clearly I value certain things above others, I do wonder if this myopia is healthy for us in general and specifically for public opinion about Jews.


At 2/22/05, 10:03 PM, Blogger Stx said...

Wow, Eli7 being politically incorrect. It's a shock what these blogs can bring out in a person...

You're right though. I've heard the idea that Jews harp on the Holocaust too much. True, sometimes I feel like saying to them, "Well, if half of your relatives had been killed, you'd probably talk about it a lot too." But I don't.

Public opinion? That may be an issue. Whether it's a major one, now that I'm not sure about.

And whether we should be doing it in general, in the privacy of our own homes? Well, why not? It's "how does this apply to MY life" which ends up becoming "how does this apply to my life as a Jew?"

Which is how we're supposed to view everything.

As for the Slavery Girl, I have no problem with her being obsessed with learning about slavery. Hey, mayube I would be too, if that was my cultural history. Let her go write all her papers on that. But why is she controling what the rest of your class learns? That's my only problem with it...

At 2/23/05, 10:02 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Regarding Slavery Girl, and in a larger sense Jews, my point is that if you spend all your time on a very specific issue that may or may not relate to the real issue, you're very often missing the entire point. True, slavery is a really big issue - especially for someone whose ancestors were affected by it - but that doesn't mean that everything relates back to slavery. If you only focus on slavery when you're studying Hume, you end up focusing on one fairly inconsequential paragraph in a much larger work and that's ridiculous because you don't end up learning any Hume. You end up completely missing the point.

Do we do this as Jews? Yeah, I think we do. Not every event in the news is directly related to us and i think it wouldn't hurt us to realize that.

At 2/23/05, 11:53 AM, Blogger Stx said...

I disagree. As usual.

Everything IS because of the Jews. Would I recommend that you say that in your Philosophy class? No. Would I recommend that it be thought about, always?


What the Chofetz Chaim said when there was an earthquake in India (I think?), what the Rabbonim said when the tsunami hit, what the generation before us felt universally when the Berlin Wall collapsed.

The world was created for one reason only. All the politics, all the philosophies, all the natural phenomena out there in the world...they're all just layers of skin surrounding the heart that is...us. When something happens in the world, it's for us to learn from. When America starts up with Iraq, it's because we've got to notice something. When you overhear something in the hallways of the Lowe Library, it was said specifically so that YOU would overhear it.

So why NOT apply it to ourselves?

At 2/24/05, 7:55 PM, Blogger TRW said...

Someone I know once made a comment about hearing an expletive (which, incidentally, comes from Latin-"to fill"-expletives are only used to fill space in sentences...which is why they're so stupid) that he had to hear that because he did something wrong. If his sensitivities were up to par, he wouldn't have been in a situation where he would have heard it at all...just got me thinking...

At 2/27/05, 2:45 AM, Blogger The Perfect Ema said...

Thaks STX, didn't have the energy to respond :-). It sounds like somebody has been at a secular college for too long.....[wink], or maybe I've been in Israel for too long...


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