Some of what the Pittsburgh terror brings up for me

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Like most of us I am heartbroken about the Pittsburgh synagogue killings. There are no words.

    There is something more that comes up for me. I am a Jew. My son was neither born Jewish or raised Jewish. I tried to integrate him into my faith as a small child but the barriers at that time I felt to be considerable.

    My son, about 5 years back, became interested in and started to spout conspiracy theory lingo. His main focus was on Illuminati/Reptiles, something I had not heard of until then. With that he began to talk about "the Rothschilds" and "Soros." And once a couple of years ago when I had begun to read a little Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism I mentioned it--and he knowingly associated it was the Cabal, which I think is an anti-Semitic trope.

    My son does not know Jewish people really except for me, and in the past, my mother and my sister. He is good-hearted and not fueled by hatred or resentment in any way. His motive to identify with this way of thinking is to belong and to have something with which to identify, understand the world, and probably to deal with his own sense of confusion about race and racial identification (he is bi-racial and looks Caucasian.)

    At this point my son and I are not in contact. I had kicked him out from the other house (very painful) which necessitated several police calls. I believe he is now homeless and a couple of months ago I texted something to him which was rejecting and emotional and he responded by cutting me off. He has texted once, just one word: hello?

    Little by little I am sleeping (with pills) and not waking up at 430 most days consumed by fear and loss.

    But the thing is this: It is hard to mourn what happened in Pittsburgh knowing that my son could well be not feeling compassion but believes instead this is a "False Flag" to control events politically. I recognize that there are many people like my own son who believe this about many attacks (Paris, 911, Boston, Sandy Hook, etc.) and I am not taking away their right to believe this.

    But right now I am hurting and I identify with these martyred people. They are me. And I am them. It is hard to accept that my own son cannot or will not have empathy for me. And the reality M does not really understand either. He sees it as something I feel more deeply because these are my people. I do not think he is getting it. He sees the loss of every life as deeply meaningful yet believes that people have appointments to die that are written. This for him takes away a lot of the disbelief when human agency intervenes to "cut life short."

    So. My question is this: How do I hold my son, who holds these beliefs?

    A part of me is recoiling against him. And I do not want him to hurt me emotionally anymore. And I am afraid of this. I do not want to push him away. He is vulnerable. And yet, I am too. If he will not accept and respect my humanity how do I stay in relation with him?

    Thank you.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Copa I am sort of confused. I do not identify with Jews or being Jewish, although my parents were, but I would be furious if any of my kids thought this was not real and had no sympathy. Its bigotry.

    I am also confused about why you, who really love your religion, did not bring up J. as Jewish .I know of many Jewish people who adopted from abroad, all different races from all over the world, who raised their children Jewish. Korean Jews. African American Jews. Chinese Jews. Bar Mitsvahs. The whole nine yards. Why didnt you do it? I am NOT criticizing you at all, I am just puzzled. If I had chosen Judaism for myself, I would have raised all my kids with those beliefs.

    To me nobody speaks bigotry in my space, kids included. Now in my opinion I think M.s reaction is fine...but I really dont listen too anyone talk about extreme and bigoted conspiracy politics. I really dont know anyone who thinks that way. I would push that person away. Far. Fast. Forever.

    But this is your son. Yes, it is different because you love him so. This matters.

    I think since you didnt raise him Jewish or introduce him to Jewish people (I didnt either with any of mine) J. cant understand your angst. But you dont have to listen to his conspiracy theories if that ever comes up. You can tell him no.

    I dont watch the news at all so I apoligize but dont know much about this, but it sounds terrible and I am very sorry. I dont understand bigotry. I dont listen to it. I wont listen to it. It cant be part of my life.

    You dont have to have it either. Just say no. But dont blame him for not understanding Judiasm because he was not taught it. Do refuse to listen to his conspiracy theories or slams on Jewish people. Thats different.

    Love and light!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you SWOT.

    There is no real answer, SWOT. I ask myself this all of the time. First, I was a marginal Jew at the time I adopted my son, and I lacked both a community and Jewish learning.

    I was making attempts to learn at an Orthodox congregation, but Orthodox and Conservative Rabbis (I spoke to them) would not accept my son as Jewish. To them he was a non-Jew even though I was his mother. And as a non-Jew he needed to go through conversion (at 22 months?) and be circumcised.

    At the time although I could understand this intellectually I could not accept it emotionally and I felt my faith was rejecting me. I know I could have gone to find a reform congregation and they would have accepted us, but I both felt rejected and I did not feel an affinity to reform Judaism.

    Where I am right now (the part of the faith) would have accepted my son and me, and I love it, but 30 years ago it was an emergent way of worshipping, and I did not know of it.

    I regret all of the time that I did not raise my son as a Jew or indeed in any religion. I feel it was one of my biggest errors. But I did not know better.

    I agree. The views are abhorrent, but this is my son.
  4. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Oh Copa. I have been struggling to understand this weekend also, as I do after every shooting. It is incomprehensible. I can only imagine how much harder it is for you when you identify so personally with this community.

    It is hard when our kids start spouting conspiracy nonsense. C has done this also, though nothing that adds up to a coherent ideology that I can tell. I’ve hesrd him spout left wing conspiracy and right wing conspiracy. His political views seem very confused. He has swung from leftist anarchism to far right neo conservatism. I think there is something about living on the edges of society that makes conspiracy theories more attractive somehow. Whether it all adds up to something, who can tell?

    I guess what I am getting at is that just because you heard him get sucked into some of this rhetoric at some point or another doesn’t mean he’s taking it to it’s logical conclusion of bigotry and violence towards Jewish people or anyone else. He may be just as horrified as you are to hear about this violence. He may be only marginally aware that it has happened, if at all. He may have more awarensss than you realize of his Jewish heritage through you, and just not be connecting the dots between some of the tropes and rhetoric he is quoting and you and your heritage. Or maybe he knows exactly and is just spouting nonsense to hurt you.

    Young people shift with the winds anyway. Doubly so when they are living in the chaos our kids are living in.

    In any case, please don’t personalize his statements or read too much into them. This tragedy is hard enough to understand on its own. No sense trying to read into J’s past statements or predict his potential reactions.
  5. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I guess people have a ‘right’ to believe whatever they want to believe - but that doesn’t change the fact that there is an objective realty, and some beliefs conform to that reality and some do not. I don’t know that it does us all, as a society, any favors to pretend that all beliefs are equally valid. There is such a thing as truth, even if it isn’t always easy to find or prove. I refuse to give up on an objective shared reality. That way lies madness.
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. I agree. I guess it is because my son is not connecting to his empathy, to his kindness, even to, especially to, the EFFECTS of his behavior on everybody else (me), or on society. It galls me so much that he calls 6k ambulances for rides to the doctor. There are moral RIGHTS and WRONGS, that he is not in touch with, or taking into account.
    I agree with you completely. I guess they are calling this "false equivalency" now. It used to be called relativism, the idea that there was no right way to live; I used to think this way. That to have a sense in the "right" thing to do was to elevate the culturally specific to inherent truth, and somehow ethnocentric.

    I no longer believe that now. I believe that there are moral absolutes. That there are right ways to live. But at the same time I try to "let it be" in the sense that I cannot enforce a belief system and I have to live in a world where I have no control in the marketplace of ideas and beliefs. I am not sure though that I believe there is an independent "truth." *Except I see I must be confused because if you believe there are rights and wrongs, how can there not be an independent truth? I believe that there can be universal "goodness" but I do not know if I think of this as "truth." I will think more about this.
    I agree with you here. I am never served by personalizing what my son does or says. But I do.

    I am glad I posted this thread because it is a way to get clarity where I stand vis a vis my pain.

    I am taking heart because my pain about my son has diminished. I can tell as I type this. Thank you.

    PS. The congregation in Pittsburgh was targeted by the killer because they had been working to aid Central American immigrants. That is the lunacy, that Jews are behind the Caravan. Sorros, and Jews in general, have manufactured and funded the immigrant caravan in order to take over the country from real citizens. OMG.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  7. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I guess it is really two things I mean. Yes, I agree that there are some moral absolutes, most (all?) of which basically boil down to ‘don’t hurt other people’. Respect their bodily autonomy, their right to self determination, their property, etc.

    But what I really meant there was just that reality is real. Something either exists or it doesn’t, whether I ‘believe’ in it or not. Those children at Sandy Hook really existed and really died. So did these people in Pittsburgh. Someone else can ‘believe’ that it is a false flag funded by George Soros, but that does not make it reality. Crazy conspiracy theories don’t deserve equal airtime and respect as carefully researched and verified journalism or scientific research. Truth exists in this world, and there are ways to confirm and verify it.

    There are still mysteries and many things we do not know. I don’t dispute that. But the existence of some mysteries does not mean everything is a mystery.
  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I agree with you, Elsi.

    It is not the norm that some odd thinking people dont believe 911 happened or that the Jews own the media etc. I agree that there is a small minority who are very bigoted and sprout these conspiracies to coat their bigotry. I dont personally feel that these beliefs are anything except crazed nonsense and I won't listen to anyone talk this way. I dont think every belief is equally, for lack of a better word, good as in kind. Valid either.

    Copa I understand about Orthodox Jews although I rejected that at a very early age. I was told only to date Jewish boys so that I wasnt tempted to marry a "gentile" and further erode the number of Jews that existed. I didnt listen and did not then and do not now feel that Jewish is a race, just a religion. And I really dont like how Orthodox Judiasm tries to seperate Jewish people from the rest of the world. If I still identified with any formal religion, and if it was Judaism, I would have to be Reform. I knew about Reform way in high school but really just did not want to continue practicing Judaism. I was very aware of the Jewish options. My neighborhood was 95 percent Jewish. To me it was normal not to have a Christmas tree. Nobody did.

    I am sorry that you didnt know about the difference in types of Judiasm so that you could teach your son. Orthodox and Traditional are similar. Reform is very different. As a child I remember going only to one Orthdox temple and one Traditional temple that my Grandma belonged to.

    I wish you had had more information. You would have enjoyed Reform. J. probably would have too. It is inclusive.

    Love and light!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. You said that before you spoke about truth. And I answered you mis-hearing you, even though you were very clear that you were speaking about truth not as an abstract concept but about flesh and blood, heart-felt souls.

    I am stricken that I so quickly distanced myself from that. Is that not part of the same continuum of these "loser" conspiracy theorists who are trying to find somewhere to hide to not feel their flesh and blood heartfelt sorrow and pain? When I worked in prison I felt compassionate understanding of almost every prisoner (there were just a few over the years I recoiled from.) I believed in a shared humanity. Why is it so hard to feel it?
    That is exactly it.
    I am struggling with this, to wrap my head around it, because this is really the nutshell of the thing. Is it that we have moved away as a people from the sense that we live in an objectively defined world, with parameters that each of us accepts and understands? Or is it alienation, the sense that the world has left us, and we are lost and need to and can with a few other nutcases, make a new one with new rules? This is really cult-like. And 40 years ago this kind of thing was really and clearly on the lunatic fringe. I mean. How is this different than Jonestown? This kind of thing used to be thought of as evil and abhorrent and absolutely confined to the realm of madness. And now?
    I am really struggling with this and I believe our society is struggling with it too. I agree that public space and cover and protections should not be given to people who threaten public safety, like yelling "fire" in a movie theater. Free speech does not "trump" the right of people as a collective, their right to be unmolested and not threatened by lunacy, just because.

    I believe what is being negotiated by facebook, about the election and the freedom of the marketplace and freedom of communications is all a part of this same thing.
    I listen a lot to cable news as a way to distract myself from my own pain. I hear the broadcasters struggling with their own complicity in ushering in this madness as they seek "ratings."

    I guess what I am saying here is there is a tension, an opposition. If we cut off arbitrarily this conversation, and by that I mean, even the fringe elements, we are deprived of the ability to work it through, having it rise to the surface so to purge it. But at the same time if we empower it, by letting it have voice and the ability to take hold and to run, we risk being destroyed.

    I think the answer to use your words, is to have a "reality" mechanism. Like some newspapers verify or not statements of public officials as "truth" or "lies." But there is so much bloviating now, with so much media, and internet free speech, that we have lost control. There are not enough conscious and conscientious and responsible people to contain and review all of this cultural production to feed it back to us so we can see ourselves, take stock, and improve as a people. Not in real time.

    This is one beauty of this forum. For me, it is not so much that I get wise counsel and support, which I surely do. It is that I get this ability to review my thoughts and feelings, how I manifest, so that I can take account and be better. I can come closer and closer to being "true" to myself and real.

    Thank you, Elsi.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am back to quoting myself, because I am unsatisfied with my lack of clarity.

    I am thinking of 1930's Germany which is the glaring but not the only example. Who in their right mind could argue that it was healthy to allow the fomenting of hatred and prejudice and de-humanization of people (let alone killing them off)? Of course I do not believe that hate speech is "free speech."

    I am left in trembling doubt and confusion. I believe that life is dynamism, that there is always an opposition, a fight between evolution and devolution. That you cannot have one, without the other. And society is always a compromise between the two. That there has to be both poles, for there to be movement, for there to be creation. And I believe that in times of historical crisis, just this kind of thing happens. That all hell breaks loose and we lose control. I believe we are in this kind of crisis. And there is not much that any one of us can do outside of our personal choices. The question is how much worse does this get?

    Thank you, Elsi and SWOT.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Exactly why I never watch the news.

    Im always amazed that anyone watches cable news or especially listens to the insanity of talk radio.

    The news used to only be what was verified.

    I try to live in my own world, what is around me where I can have a voice and make a difference. As hard as it is to accept, most of us can do nothing to help anything/anyone who is far away. I worry about everything I hear so since I cant change anything far away from me it is best for me not to hear about what I cant do anything to change.

    Its not like any news channel ever puts anything positive on. Good things DO happen but bad news must pump up ratings. I dont know if the view of things on the news or radio is real or not anymore.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. So true.

    You guys I am enjoying this conversation greatly but have to study my Hebrew for a bit and I will get back to you later.
    I think SWOT has the right idea. That we do not have to consent to enter into the sphere of this crazy malevolence. We can vote with our feet, and to decide to have our lives be about what we decide for ourselves. If everybody did that all of this evil whackiness would collapse in on itself. It takes people to participate to give it an existence. If we did not participate it would retreat to the margins where it was 40 years ago. Hopefully.
  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I vote. Thats about as involved as I get :)

    I went to Hebrew School as a girl for a while but I hated it so I would pretend to go and not go and not do any work so I either got kicked out or pulled out. I dont remember. But I didnt learn Hebrew.

    You go girl!
  14. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    It’s a tough conundrum for sure. I don’t believe in censorship. But the internet and social media makes these crazy ideas so much more powerful than they used to be. And there are so many different places to get news and information. We can’t seem to agree on facts anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it, because I think censorship is dangerous and wrong, but I refuse to give up on the existence of actual facts.

    SWOT, I think you have the right idea in refusing to engage and keeping crazy out of your own world. I don’t know what we do about the places where these ideas still fester though. I wouldn’t worry about it if it didn’t periodically result in innocent people getting gunned down in synagogues, churches, mosques, schools, theaters and malls.

    Copa it is very cool that you are studying Hebrew!
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    But Elsi, isn't that kind of a good thing? I mean, when we used to agree on "facts" things were pretty oppressive for women. Would either you or I be living and experiencing the lives we have if we were still living according to the "facts" that were prevalent and dominant at the beginning of our lives with respect to gender roles, gender identity, racial inclusion and consensual as opposed to dictated reality or "facts"?
    What is there to do Elsi except for what you are doing?
    Which is the point, isn't it. And it could and may be getting way worse. We KNOW how bad this can get. Yesterday I heard again that saying, I don't remember where it is from...that ends "and then they came for me, and nobody was left." (To paraphrase.)
    So cool. Except for all of the work. I am in the 11th week of an online college class. It is dominating my life. But I think I will take the second semester. Because I think it is cool, too. This is my 4th language, but it is 100x harder because of the different alphabet and because it is so "foreign." It is based upon roots that get this: They are not just arbitrary signs that represent concepts. Hebrew letters and roots actually each correspond to essential physical things. Even emotions and concepts are based upon objective and physical referents. Like this one root I was just studying, one of the ways to say "praise." (There are like 7.) Well. This root is a symbol of a shepherd and his flock. And his hands are raised out into the sky, reaching up. And it means that he is opening to the guidance, to open to receive information from the Divine in order to know what to do, where to go.

    To me, this is so beautiful. And so very much represents where I want to go in my life. Which is receiving the Divine into myself.

    Hebrew is a ROOT language. It is so cool. Thank you, Elsi and SWOT.
  16. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    But those were never facts. Facts aren’t determined by the tyranny of majority opinion. Facts just are. The sky is blue. Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. The holocaust happened. Two and two are four. Moral judgements and social norms do shift over time. But what scares me now is that we can’t even agree on things that should be objective. When you have people who refuse to believe that widely reported and recorded events actually happened - like sandy hook - we’ve entered another whole realm of crazy.

    I heard another version of the ‘first they came for the ...’ quote yesterday. It went ‘First they came for the journalists. After that we have no idea what the hell happened.”
  17. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    That is so cool! I wish I was better at languages. That sounds fascinating!
  18. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I dont mind disagreeing on things that are possible. Some of this conspiracy stuff is blatantly untrue. I am not going to give credance to those who think the earth is flat, for example. They are free to think it and believe it and write about it but I dont want to engage them. On a darker subject I don't want to read about the beliefs of the KKK. I think their views are becoming more mainstream and are dangerous but I cant stop them from getting an almost credible hearing in some places. The alt.right. That thinking. Its on the news these days. Why listen?

    People always got hurt, Else. We cant stop that. It will never stop sadly. I try to volunteer and help in my neck of the woods. I can help people I know who live near me. I can help in our humane society. I can help in the south when we travel, where I am. But....

    But no matter how sick I feel over say, a school shooting (this is the kind of thing that really affects me) I cant do anything for anyone involved. Its not possible. I can only help out if I am there. So I would rather not even know. And I used to be very interested in politics and the news.

    I think cable news, talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Trump made me realize that I have to take care of myself and stop getting upset about things and people I cant control. And trust me I am calmer now. As a high anxiety empathic person I had to insulate myself. But in my neck of the woods I am very active in trying to help. What frustrates me is to know about something that is awful and being able to do nothing about it :(
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  19. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Me too, SWOT. But I can’t seem to stop watching.
  20. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Let me tell you a little bit about the Tree Of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill (part of Pittsburgh but it's own community). Across the street from the synagogue is the Children's Institute. It is a place for rehabilitation for injured children. We spent 2 months there in 1994--years ago, When I heard the name of the location of the shooting my heart broke. I was there with my almost 1 year old daughter while our 3 year old son was inpatient, recovering from spinal surgery. We were 6 hours from home and my husband had to be back at work. The people we knew there were a wonderful group.They came to the Children's rehab to read to the kids, to the Ronald McDonald house (where we stayed while our son was inpatient) they offered any assistance they could. They brought meals, offered to babysit the siblings of the hospitalized children, that let parents go spend time at the rehab with the patient. On Easter they hosted a wonderful meal for the families at the Ronald McDonald house(es) There are 2 Ronald McDonald houses there. 1 for Bone marrow recipients (who have to be "quarantined" for quite awhile while the regain their health) and 1 for the parents of the kids that are in the rehab. There is also a special education school right there. The neighborhood was predominately Jewish. I wouldn't have known that if someone hadn't told me. To me they were all just the kindest people I had ever had the good fortune to meet. Jewish, Methodist, Catholic, whatever..that neighborhood was full of wonderful human beings.
    They took a time in family's lives that was horrible and were doing their best to make it better.
    This is so sad.
    By the way I am Methodist..and I have friends of all faiths.