Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Hope

When some hear the word “Messiah,” light illuminates their faces. Others hear the word and fall to their knees in prayer.  Just about everyone I’ve met, however, feels relieved and at peace with themselves, for the  arrival of the Messiah, whoever it may be, sure sounds wonderful for the world we live in today. I, on the contrary, cringe at the thought.
Why am I so opposed to peace miraculously brought to the world? Moreover, why do I passionately disagree with all the Messianic prophecies in my own Jewish Scriptures? It’s not that I prefer endless world conflicts over peace, nor do I ignore the words written in every holy book, I just refuse to blindly believe in an unknown being to accomplish everything that we can do today.
In the Jewish faith, the upcoming Messiah must be entirely human, from the paternal line of King David, and bring eternal peace to the world in his (or her) first (and only) coming. Therefore, according to Jewish texts, the Messiah today is still unknown, which decreases my faith this non- existent, detailed person. The details according to the texts, however, increase my faith in the pure humans that exist in our communities.
Synagogues, churches, mosques, even Buddhist temples all gather to promote peace, to credit something greater for the peace that already surrounds them. We, as faithful people, preach and pray for one person to come and enlighten the world; we truly accept that one selected, humble person will just bring about peace at an unknown time or place. By doing so, we feel comforted that perhaps the peace we’re looking for will arrive sooner if we worship or promote this bizarre concept. Feeling comforted by this unproven idea, however, proves our reliability for things in the world, this case being world peace, to be accomplished for us. Faithful people have certainly become lazy these days.
Truthfully, the Jewish texts have proven that this long awaited peacemaker can’t be Jesus of Nazareth. We can’t expect to see the Lubavitch Rebbe riding through town on a donkey anytime soon. Even the Dalai Lama, though an inspirational leader, doesn’t apply to the Messianic prophecies written all over the Old Testament. This doesn’t stop us, though, from blindly parading the idea of eternal peace everywhere we go. I suppose it comforts us to praise an unknown being that is claimed to help us all get along one day. Since some believe that one man will unite the world, we act as though we are utterly incapable of connecting with others. We’ve been motivated to perfect ourselves in time for one person to arrive and perfect everything else. With the concept of a Messiah, we are literally relying on an unknown future to be built in front of our eyes, rather than building the world in which we live today.
Not all of us, however, accept blind faith. Rather than futilely reclining and waiting, some move forward in repairing the world just in case no one does it for us. We don’t realize, though, that these people have already begun taking small steps to complete the mission of one Messiah: bringing eternal peace to the world. In fact, these individuals may just be the only “Messiahs” we’ll ever witness in our lives. And while these people may not have the ability to instantly create lifelong peace in the Middle East, they put in all their effort to create something close enough; their intentions alone are far more pure than any prophesized text.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many religious activists who do remarkable things. The most faithful people I’ve met spend all their time serving G-D and those around them, which inspires me every day. We, as faith activists, just need to double check our intentions behind our deeds.  Are we catering to the world purely for the betterment of the world, or to speed an entrance of an unrealistic miracle? Will opening the door for the person behind me please the Messiah? Or will it make the person walking behind me feel grateful? Which one is more realistic and impactful at that moment? Perhaps if we focus our actions towards improving the world today, we will be taking steps toward eternal peace, because at the end of the day, would the Messiah have arrived on time to hold the door open?
Unfortunately, I cannot prove that a Messiah is merely imaginary comfort, nor do I know if one will actually arrive. I do know, however, that I will forever look down upon the concept of one selected man accomplishing something we all have the capability to create ourselves. Eternal peace exists just outside our front doors. We can memorize the kindness in our hearts much more effectively than the Messianic texts. We do not need to wait for a debatable prophecy to arrive to create world peace; we could begin the small steps ourselves. We could all, in fact, be our own Messiahs.
My opinions may be unorthodox, but let’s face it; while a rebuilt temple sounds nice, creating peace in our own communities is just so much more worthwhile. Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham can easily sing about creating peace just as beautifully as their previous Messianic tunes. The mitzvah mobiles could illuminate a motivational message on their trucks rather than a Messiah picture. Promoting peace today is so much more effective than promoting a debatable idea. Promoting the world to accomplish the unthinkable is much more powerful than wistfully praying for the unthinkable to be done for us.  
Life is too short to rely on debatable Messianic hope; let’s create our own. Let’s focus our intentions to making this world, today, a better place. I’m sure any Messiah would be happy to see faithful people coming together to accomplish a global, worthwhile mission. Though we are simply people, we can find the motivation to create something greater for our world today, and in the future. And we have already begun.

1 comment:

  1. You are awesome, Emily. This is the first post I've read of yours, and I don't have enough words to express how impressed I am with your insight. (I'm a writer, right? So where are my words???) I support your philosophy 100%, and it actually reminds me of a film many years ago - Pay It Forward, about a boy who, in a different way, shared your attitude. You go, girl!