Welcome to Orthodoxistan, please keep your crazy within the borders.

My spiritual practice centers primarily around Jewish holidays and rituals. I say primarily because really it’s complicated and not only did I grow up in different faith traditions, I also feel like there is a lot to learn from different traditions that can help us generally get closer to living a spiritual life. No one has a monopoly on the right way to worship God, and it seems like the people who are most confident that they do know that one right way are pretty crappy about how they take care of their fellow human beings. I propose we offer all of these ultra-orthox zealots, of all religions and faith persuasions an opportunity to live in a  country where they can freely practice their beliefs, all together. They have all the answers, let them fight it out with each other and leave the rest of us to living our lives.

I got to thinking about this thanks to the ultra-orthodox Jewish men who decided that once on a commercial flight to Israel it was not going to be okay for them to sit next to women. So they offended a bunch of women by asking, insisting, offering bribes for them to move, they delayed the takeoff of the flight (I’m sure all of the other passengers were totally understanding), and then they created a generally unsafe environment by standing in the aisles as soon as they could, for the majority of the flight, so that they wouldn’t be next to woman. Presumably though these men live in the dark ages in their minds they know enough to understand how commercial air transport works. They managed to buy tickets after all.  So one option would have been to all get together and charter a flight. Another option would have been to purchase a first class ticket where you are in a little pod not next to anyone. And still another option would be to move these butters to Orthodoxistan where the national airline could fly single gender flights only and then you just buy tickets for your man flight or your woman flight depending on how you identify. That last little part is a joke because I would assume that in Orthodoxistan gender identity isn’t really up to you, you are what your genitalia says you are, end of story.

All of the extremists and ultra-orthodox of every faith would go and live in Orthodoxistan. Together. That’s the really funny part because really how well would that work out. They would probably all want to live in their own neighborhoods and not have to engage with anyone not of their particular group. Some of them would want to kill others, a lot of them probably, and I suppose after a while either everyone would be dead or everyone would be practicing the same brand of crazy. That is the goal of all these groups right? Do it my way or be dead? Or for some maybe it’s ‘do it my way or don’t come anywhere near me?’ I don’t talk to any of these people so I don’t really know what the thinking is. In general I respect everyone’s right to practice their faith the way that works for them but there are a lot of exceptions to my “in general” statement. Don’t hurt other people, don’t be unkind, don’t lie, don’t steal, live gently and simply if you will. Maybe my rules aren’t the best rules, they certainly don’t match the behavior of the people who most confidently feel like they know the way, the truth and the light.

The challenge of course is that we need to be with each other to learn from each other how to be better for all of us together. I don’t really know what crazy is, I don’t have a monopoly on defining the right way to believe. It is hard to define extreme, but as wiser minds than mine have said, “you know it when you see it.” So maybe we just build some really big walls around Orthodoxistan and the deal is that if you come out you have to leave the crazy behind, you have to sit next to whoever you get put next to, you are not allowed to kill people who don’t pray the way you do, and if you don’t like the way someone looks just close your eyes.

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