David Mandler, Ph.D.

Thoughts, feelings, reactions on Hungarian, American, Israeli, Jewish issues

Month: December, 2012

It’s the End of the Year as We Know It (Bye-Bye 2012)

Many of us want to reflect at the end of the year about what the old year has brought, and what we would like the new one to bring. Instead of coherent and well-developed paragraphs that only a handful of people would bother to read in any case, I’ll condense my reflections into a few and but minimally coherent points.

1. Since ours is an overwhelmingly egocentric culture, it is entirely understandable why Ipads and Ipods have become so popular while the Yugo has become all but extinct.

2. With the presidential election season over, most people, when asked about the losing and sore loser candidate, would answer, “Romney who?”

3. The year 2012 was entirely unoriginal with news items such as violence between Gaza and Israel (with Hamas recycling pictures from Syria to demonstrate Israeli brutality against civilians as a novelty item in media warfare), the continuation of Syrian president Assad’s campaign against those who have had enough of him (with a death toll now surpassing 40,000), the financial crises in various countries around Europe, multiple natural disasters around the world. The much needed exception intended to confirm the rule was the long-awaited reappearance of North Korea’s Kim Jung Il, looking better than ever now enclosed in a glass container and preserved for eternity as the embodiment of male beauty.

4. New Yorkers have learned that taking the subway is not only a source of frustration (trains late on schedule), entertainment (live music and dancers with tin boxes), misery (the many unsolicited exhibitions of derangement in the form of the homeless roaming the subway cars on all fours), and the living demonstrations of Darwin’s survival of the fittest (scrambling for the last empty seat–and once found, squeezing in between two extraordinarily obese bodies), but may also be the last journey one may ever take (with the phrase “pushy customers” assuming an entirely different meaning).

5. Sandy will no longer conjure up fond memories of a young heterosexual John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John but rather of blackouts and massive property damage.

6. The negative effects of 2012’s extreme weather phenomena will be made manifest for more than a million New York’s public school students (and their teachers) as the traditional five-day February break will be shortened by three days supposedly to make up for the lost days during Hurricane Sandy. Never mind that the students who will gain these three days will not be in the same classes that lost the three days in the fall term.

7. 2012: the year of Gangham Style and its numerous spawns.

8. 2012: the year in which Lady Gaga could not come up with anything to surpass herself. Maybe in 2013. (Too bad Kim Jung Il had anticipated Lady Gaga by having himself mummified first).

9. The countdown to 2013 on New Year’s Eve will serve to focus the mind on how much time is left before the U.S. falls into the fiscal cliff the Congress and the president created in order to avoid it later.

10. Fill in the blank with your own reflection (add in the comment section).

The year 2012 is over. Welcome 2013!

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On the Newton Massacre: Why?

The massacre on Friday in Newton, Connecticut, has shattered the lives of countless families who have lost their most precious treasures in a few terrifying moments. Such a senseless slaughter of children and the heroic adults in charge of their education makes even the most callous of us pause and ask the inevitable: why?

Why did Adam Lanza, the shooter, have access to such devastating firearms? Why does any civilian need such weapons in the first place? Hunting animals certainly does not require automatic weapons. Of course, the whole idea of hunting “for fun” strikes me as an utterly selfish expression of a personality that enjoys wanton destruction. But who am I to judge? As long as hunting itself is not illegal, my personal aversion towards it has no bearing on other people’s choices. So, the first step, in my view, in fostering respect for human life is to create a climate in which the life of wild animals is valued to such an extent that it would not even occur to anyone to extinguish the life of a complex thinking and feeling animal just for the fun of it. 

And if not for hunting, why would anyone need a gun? For self-protection from others with guns, of course! After all, the gun lobby has told us many times that “it’s not guns that kill people; it’s people who kill people.” No, guns do not kill people. But they don’t give birth and nurture people. Ever the most ardent NRA member could not argue with the fact that guns enable people to kill others with more efficiency and in much larger numbers. Adam Lanza armed with a kitchen knife would not have been able to murder 27 people.

Only when a significant number of people who should not have guns have guns does everyone need to have a gun.

Why did Adam Lanza decide to shoot 27 people to death? It is too early to answer that question. According to some news articles, Lanza had a personality disorder. Shooters with mental disorders seems to be a recurrent theme. Yet, it’s perfectly reasonable. Who else but a mentally deranged individual would think about shooting five to ten-year-olds in a school? While our instinctive response is a resounding nobody would, I beg to differ.

Don’t the most popular video games today involve massive amounts of shooting and increasingly more realistic graphics that allow the virtual shooters to “enjoy” seeing their victims die in gruesome and often grotesquely exaggeratedly detailed ways? Are these games, as some would argue, only serve to channel the natural human tendencies for aggression of violence into a harmless dimension where nobody really gets hurt? Perhaps. I, for one, find the prevalence and popularity of violent video games quite a disturbing testimony of humanity and its discontents even in the unlikely scenario that the mass shooters of the recent past had never played a single violent video game prior to their shooting sprees. Again, a massacre such as the one in Newton should make us think twice about promoting senseless killings (especially for entertainment) as these video games desensitize young people to seeing bodies mowed down by a hail of gunfire.

Why was Adam Lanza not treated for his “personality disorder” in time? This, too, is a question to be answered. What we do know is that far too many people today have either no access to mental health services or have only inadequate or occasional access mainly as a result of having no health insurance or having inadequate health insurance. This, too, must change. Those of us whose eyes tear up at the images of screaming children rushing out of their school building in single file owe it to the children who were taken out in body bags. We need to demand from our elected officials–and our insurance companies–that mental health issues be taken seriously in our country. As with anything, the more organized and unified our voices are, the better.

Finally, why did God allow such a gruesome mass slaughter? To this question, we have no answer. God has “allowed” countless equally horrific events in human history. For some, this is proof that God is either not benevolent or not omnipotent. For others, it puts an end to the “notion” of God. Still others see it as an inevitable consequence of free will that God has granted every human being. We are all free to act upon our will even if it results in the horrible loss of other human beings. It is not my place, nor would it be appropriate for me, to moralize here. The pain is too fresh. Our tears shoot up from a bottomless pit of deep sorrow in reaction to such a heavy loss of young lives.

My conclusions did not need such a horrible act of violence to come to the fore. Yet, it is the best occasion for me to reiterate what I have always believed. We need to act as kind, responsible and compassionate human beings today, tomorrow and every day. We need to put an end to the gun culture that has sprouted so many weeds in our social garden, choking the life out of the diverse and beautiful flowers that are our children. We need to reexamine the way in which our institutions deal with the mentally ill. We need to look within ourselves and honestly ask ourselves whether or not we have done everything (or anything) in our power to make those around us feel good about themselves and about others in their environment.

We need to develop a sense of responsibility for one another in which others’ well-being is as important to us as is our own–since in the final analysis, everyone is inextricably connected to everyone else.

A part of me has died on Friday along with those 27 innocents.

I fervently hope that my remaining vital parts redouble their efforts to stimulate a strong desire in me to do good, be kind, and feel compassion for every human being on Earth and especially those in my immediate vicinity for whom I can make a difference.

Képzelt Nyílt Levél Vona Gábornak Ilan Mortól

Kedves Vona Ur,

Eloszor is, elnezeset kerem, hogy ekezet nelkul irom a valaszlevelemet, de nalunk az izraeli nagykovetsegen nincs ekezetes klaviatura. Szerencsemre azert nem csak heber karakteres van. Kedves levelet olvasva meg kell jegyeznem azt, hogy On egy mennyire udvarias, illemtudo, es korrekt nyilt levelet irt penteken. Azt meg egy ovodas is tudja, hogy ha az ember valaszt akar magankerdesere egy nagykovettol akkor az csakis nyilt levellel erheti el. Termeszetesen levelenek minden sorabol kisul az, hogy On tenyleg hozzam cimezte szavait es nem pedig a sajat eloiteleteiben megrogzott es mar betegesen Izrael ellenes taboranak.

Eppen ezert nem allhatom meg, hogy ne vessem magam a kompjuternek igy a sabbat kimenetele utan es Hanuka unnepenek bejovetelevel. Hiszen mi mas dolga is lenne egy izraeli nagykovetnek Budapesten. Meg a sajtofonokom is azt mondta, hogy nekem nem kellen Vonakodnom.

Nagy oromomre szolgal az, hogy Gyöngyösi Márton „nagy vihart kavart” parlamenti felszólalásában elhangzott szavai „nem fedték a felszólalás igazi szándékát” ahogy ezt irja (igen, az ekezetes reszt az index.hu-rol masoltam ide). Mar kezdtunk aggodni, hogy Izrael allamaval szembeni melyseges gyuloletet ravetiti a magyar zsidokra. De nem, szerencsere ez nem tortent meg. Milyen jo tudni, hogy a magyar zsidosagot semmilyen diszkrimitativ lepesekkel nem szandekozza sujtani esetleges kormanyra jutasa eseten. Bizonyara nem fedi a valosagot az sem, hogy a Jobbik part letezese ota az antiszemitizmust es holokauszt tagadast tuzte zaszlajara.

Engedje meg, hogy megkerdezzem azt, hogy akkor mi a valosag.

Csak az izraeli-magyar kettos allampolgarok jelentenek potencialis nemzetbiztonsagi veszelyt Magyarorszagra? Es mi van a pirez-magyarokkal a roman, szlovak vagy netan irani-magyarokkal? Miben rejlik ez a veszely? Azt tudjuk objektiv es minden esetben a valosagot fedo internetes hirportaljuktol–a kuruc.info-tol–hogy mar evek ota Jeruzsalemben magyar nyelvre oktatjak az ottani fiatalsagot hiszen Magyarorszag ma a lehetosegek orszaga! (Egyuttal akkor elnezest kerek, ha magyartalan kifejezeseket hasznalok; Jeruzsalemben igy tanitottak engem is). Lehetoseg nyilna arra, hogy az onnan elmenekulo tomegeket–akik sajnos nem latjak, hogy mennyire fantasztikus az Orban-rendszer altal elert Magyar gazdasagi csucsteljesitmeny–pajszlis jeruzsalemi emberekkel helyetesitsuk. (Es ki nem tudna, hogy Izraelt csakis pajeszos emberek lakjak)? Azt is volt szerencsek olvasni ugyanott, hogy “a zsidok” mekkora veszelyt jelentenek a vilag (es annak kozepe, Magyarorszag) szamara politikailag, erkolcsileg, gazdasagilag es vallasilag. Megnyugvassal konstatalom, hogy minden mas szempontbol a zsidosagot artalmatlannak velik.

Ironikusnak nem mondhato leveleben ez all: “Tanulni egyáltalán nem szégyen, és mi, magyarok szeretnénk most tanulni másoktól. Különösen olyanoktól nem szégyen tanulni, akik saját országukban mindig fontosnak tartják a demokrácia, az egyenlőség és az igazságosság elveinek érvényesülését, és ezen álláspontjukat más országok felé is készek és képesek képviselni.” (index.hu) Levelet olvasva szegyenkezve kell bavallanom, hogy inkabb nekem, nekunk Izraelieknek, kellene Ontol tanulnunk. Honnan mastol mint a Jobbiktol tanulhatnank mi meg azt, hogy orszaghatarainkol belul az altalunk ellensegnek velt, pusztan az etnikai, nemi vagy vallasi hozzatartozasaval masnak itetelt emberekkel hogyan is kell banni.A magyar ciganysagrol igazan peldakeppen beszelt eddig, valahanyszor mikrofon ele engedte a magyar media. Taborokba zarni, allami tamogatastol megfosztani, “megnevelni” meg veletlenul sem szandekozik senkit. Egy felkatonai fasisztoid szervezetet felallitani ugy, hogy betiltasa utan is eletkepesen mozgositani tudja bizony honnan mashol tanulnank mint a Jobbiktol? A sajtoszbadsag megorzeset es a szabad velemeny nyilvanitast honnan mashol tanulnank mi meg mint attol a Jobbiktol amely bebortonozne azokat akik a homoszekszualitast nepszerusitenek. A massag teszteletet es a demokracia szeretetet honnan mashonnal tudnank megtanulni mi, Izraeliek, mint az On emberszereto es humanitasarol vegtelenul ismert partjatol?

Talan az izraeli-arabokkal (akik Izraelben egyenjoguak, igy a birosagban, a parlamentben, es a rendorsegben is reprezentalva vannak) is ugy kellene bannunk ahogy a Jobbik kedve szerint banna a magyar zsidosaggal esetleges kormanyra keruleset kovetoen. Bizonyara akkor is csak az izraeli-magyar allampolgarok listajat szeretnek rogziteni, hiszen azok az emberek feltetlenul a nemzet biztonsagat kockaztatjak azzal, hogy penzuket a magyar gazdasagba fektetik be. Igazuk van: szolnunk kell, hogy ne mergezze az izraelbol szarmazott dollar a szent magyar gazdasagot! Minek az Magyarorszagnak? Van ott eleg penz igy is.

Kerdesere valaszolva: izraeli kepviselo csak olyan izraeli allampolgar lehet aki lemond minden mas allampolgarsagrol. Viszont abban az esetben ha az illeto olyan orszag allampolgara amelynel az allampolgarsagrol valo lemondasi jog nem letezik akkor az a szemely leteheti az eskut es szolgalhatja izrael nepet meg ugy is, hogy mas allampolgarsaggal rendelkezik (Article 16A, alap torveny). Bizony az izraeli jogi helyzet es az On partja altal eloterjesztett otlet kozot meg a vak is eszreveszi az egybeesest. Mi is csak egy orszag allampolgarjait tiljuk ki a parlamentbol, hiszen a szemunkben az egesz vilag egy orszag. Talan Magyarorszagnak is bekellene iktatni egy ilyen jellegu torvenyt, es igen, csakis Izraellel szemben, hiszen Magyarorszag foggal es korommel kuzdott az ellen, hogy szlovak, roman, szerb, es ukran ember magyar allampolgar is legyen. Eloszor is, a legnagyobb veszelyt tenyleg az a bizonyara jelentos szamu izraeli allampolar jelenti Magyarorszag szamara akik a magyar parlamentben lapulnak. Szinte semmi eselye annak, hogy barmifele nemzetbiztonsagi veszelyt jelentene az nehany szlovak, roman, szerb, es ukran allampolgarsaggal rendelkezo ember aki az elmult evben magyar allampolgarra valt.

Vegezetul azt kerem, hogy a jovoben ne vonakodjon (vagyis, mindig csak Vonakodjon) . Mindig irja le amit gondol, hiszen csakis igy tudhatja meg a vilag, hogy On igazabol egy kedves, rendes, es semmi fele diszkriminaciot nem turo ember.

Vegtelen es kimondhatatlan tisztelettel,
I.M.
12/08/12

Irta: Mandler David