Some folks think of people much as we think of cars on a highway: each with its own origin and destination, relating to one other only to negotiate lane changes and left-hand turns. For cars, closeness is danger, loneliness is freedom.
People are not cars. Cars are dead. People live. Living beings need one another, nurture one another, share destinies and reach them together. When you’re alive, closeness is warmth, loneliness is suffocating.
People belong to families. Families make up communities. Communities make up the many colorful peoples of the world. And all those peoples make up a single, magnificent body with a single soul called humankind.
Some chop this body into seven billion fragments and roll it back into a single mush. They want each person to do his or her own thing and relate equally to every other individual on the planet. They don’t see the point of distinct peoples. They feel such distinctions just get in the way.
But we are like leaves extending from twigs branching out from larger twigs on branches of larger branches, until we reach the trunk and roots of us all. Each of us has our place on this tree of life, each its source of nurture—and on this the tree relies for its very survival.
None of us walks alone. Each carries the experiences of ancestors wherever he or she roams, along with their troubles, their traumas, their victories, their hopes and their aspirations. Our thoughts grow out from their thoughts, our destinies are shaped by their goals. At the highest peak we ever get to, there they are, holding our hand, pushing us upward, providing the shoulders on which to stand. And we share those shoulders, that consciousness, that heritage with all the brothers and sisters of our people.
That’s why your own people are so important: If you want to find peace with any other person in the world, you’ve got to start with your own brothers and sisters. Until then, you haven’t yet found peace within your own self. And only when you’ve found peace within yourself can you help us find peace for the entire world.
Every Jew is a brother or sister of a great family of many thousands of years. Where a Jew walks, there walk sages and martyrs, heroes and heroines, legends and miracles, all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, the first two Jews who challenged the whole world with their ideals. There walk the tears, the blood and the chutzpah of millennia, the legacy of those who lived, yearned and died for a world to come, a world the way it was meant to be.
Their destiny is our destiny. In us they are fulfilled. In all of us and every one of us, and all of us together. For we are all one.
When one Jew does an act of kindness, all our hands extend with his or hers. If one Jew should fall, all of us stumble. If one suffers, we all feel pain. When one rejoices, we are all uplifted. In our oneness we will find our destiny, and our destiny is to be one. For we are a single body, breathing with a single set of lungs, pulsating with a single heart, drawing from a single well of consciousness.
We are one. Let it be with love.