December 29, 2017 Opinions of Kelley Kidd.
There are some paths in my life that have always seemed to stretch from long before my life began. The State of Israel is certainly one of those. Born in 1942 in a Protestant white middle class home in the American South, I was learning about the real or imagined history of Israel before I can remember being taught anything. Bible stories came before elementary school. Israelites were as real to me as the Americans who were fighting in Europe and the Pacific in the first three years. Whether called Hebrews of Judeans or Israelites (or one of many other biblical names for Jews), these people were the heroes of the most important battles of my imagination Not the Bulge or Guadalcanal, but Jericho and the Red Sea were the scenes of the great victories I envisioned for my people—the children of Israel.
The creation of modern Israel was proclaimed as the fulfillment of prophecy and proof that the deity who created the planet was also in charge of its human history. So I was told. The deliberate and systematic slaughter of the Jews by the Nazis was the essence of evil and proof the Allies were the good guys in both world-wide wars of the 20th Century. So I was told. No act of American diplomacy could be stronger proof that America was Great than our recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist State. So I was told. Israel’s defeat of five “invading Arab armies” in 1948 proved the legitimacy of a democratic state controlled by a Jewish majority. So I was told. Many of the truisms I was taught as a child have been uprooted by later learning from sources other than my early church upbringing. The dictates of that early education have been parsed and sometimes replaced by later experience and learning. But the early valuations above have stood up to later contradiction.
There is one other conclusion about Israel that I should mention. When I wondered how God could allow the holocaust, I was told that only the wholesale slaughter of millions of Jews could have led to an international willingness to let large numbers of Jews return to the one place on earth they had always claimed as their ancestral home and future refuge. Sometimes I have felt that conclusion was based upon an overestimation of the malevolent power of religious and ethnic antisemitism. Sometimes I have almost believed that the human race has advanced in tolerance to the point at which it can generally embrace the existence of a flourishing Jewish culture and religion. Maybe, I have hoped, the world has become sufficiently imbued with Jewish values to embrace the people from which these values have sprung.
December 27, 2016. I spent Christmas with my own tiny family that consists of my wife and her daughter. The three of us were also invited to visit most of the day with the lovely family of some of my daughter’s friends. A large and active group, the friends’ family consists mostly of well-educated and politically liberal females. The one male, the Father of two teen aged daughters, comes from a family of Jews, but has acclimated cheerfully to Christmas traditions with his wife’s people. He and I promised that we would light a menorah and sing a Hannukah song next year if we find ourselves together again at Christmas. For me Christmas is the reminder of the joy of birth and new infants, the core of the Christmas story. There was an awareness among all of us that women are wonderful. Christmas can remind us all of the most wonderful special thing that only women can do.
I reflected again this year that for me Christmas has become the most emphatic and enduring reminder that a newborn baby was and is sacred. The poorest Mother delivering the poorest infant is preserving our species through an act of creation that requires truly unimaginable and unfathomable power. Conception is a joint human venture that is the necessary predicate of a train of events that nature orchestrates unseen within the body of a human who has virtually no control of any of it after the initial act. The infant that eventually emerges at birth is the hope of the continuation of the love that started the process. If there was genuine respect and affection between the conceiving couple, the future of the infant, and therefore the species, is also hopeful. Sex can happen simply because two people enjoy the stimulation that the presence of one gives to the other. But the old moralists of every culture have not been wrong to treat conception as one of the pillars of civil order, both public and private. Eventually all adolescents are taught by their culture that these essential facts matter, that maturation does not just mean the acquisition of the biological ability to participate is sexual activity.
We are all tasked to keep our sexual activity as not mere fun, but as the extremely serious expression of the most cherished of human emotions and activity—loving intimacy. We are admonished that adulthood includes responsibility for respect for the right of every person to engage in that activity only voluntarily and only with another who shares the same respect. Manhood and womanhood are not the fantasies of entertainment and sport; they are the sexual expressions of adulthood. Many cultures reserve the status of adulthood for those who have achieved a committed sexual union. Men and women in this culture have been taught that. Both liberals and conservatives understand the seriousness of sexual consent that comes from deep affection and commitment.
So visiting this beautiful and loving family this year and sharing the nativity season with my wife and daughter all were wonderful. Somewhere in the wonder my musings reminded me again that the nation’s choice of a leader last month was more and worse than a political mistake. It was a betrayal of some of our most cherished cultural values. Truly, whether you are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, man or woman, you must agree: REAL MEN DON’T GROPE.