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An Opinion Piece on Doing What is Right and Good

August 3, 2017

In this week’s Torah portion, called Va’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11) we are reminded, among many other commandments, to do what is right and good (Deut. 6:18).

I know that this is how is live my life, whether, as in the past week, I am taking a shut-in elderly relative out for dinner, or having a recently widowed friend to our home for a meal, or taking care of an infant grandchild, or giving a break on mediation fees for a dispute over a very small sum of money, or whatever.

But I am not convinced that, in the larger sense, our society is doing what is right and good, and I am greatly disturbed by this.

I read about politicians who are blatantly untruthful or apparently think they are above the law.

I hear of foul language being spoken by people in high posts.

I learn that immigrants to our country may be excluded because they do not speak English or do not have sufficient education or technical expertise.

I follow the trending news that those most vulnerable in our society might lose healthcare coverage or be denied the safety net of Medicaid.

I fear that the ACA is being sabotaged for political gain.

I am repulsed by attempts to bar refugees and others from entering our country based upon their religious beliefs.

I am angry that immigrant parents are being separated from their families and are being deported without good cause.

I am upset that LGBTQ individuals may not be treated equally in the military or elsewhere.

I am outraged that women’s healthcare is at risk and that Planned Parenthood is a target.

All told, I am disgusted by so much in the news these days.

It is not right and it is not good, and I think that we, as a society, are better than that.

We have the Constitution: we have Due Process and Equal Protection.

We are a country of laws.

I thought we were a country of morals.

Rashi, a medieval French rabbi and commentator, says that doing what is right and good is a moral obligation to go beyond what we are legally required to do.

There are many reminders in my life of what is right and good.

The Torah portion, Va’etchanan, for instance, recalls the Ten Commandments among other things.

The Scout law reminds us to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, no matter what our President makes of it.

Freemasonry teaches us to respect freedom and to value kindness, tolerance, and our differences; to take responsibility for the well-being of our brothers, our families, and the community as a whole; and to stay true to our personal code of conduct and ethics – honor, integrity, personal responsibility, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge.

All of this is what is right and what is good and this is how I live my life.

Why is it not so for others in our society?

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who sometimes voices his opinion. He is also a Freemason and a retired Scouter. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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From → Bubbe Meises

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