Today, I have the opportunity to write a hopeful post. When you write about the subject I’ve chosen here, you don’t get that chance very often. So I relish this.
It all goes back to trolls, of whom I seem to have a lot. I recently wrote a post about one of them who specially annoyed me by calling me at home on Erev Shabbat. We proceeded to have a nasty exchange until I decided there was no point in continuing that and stopped responding to what I thought were his provocations. He, however, kept e-mailing me. Even though I didn’t pay them much attention, they still annoyed.
But yesterday, I received a different caliber of message from him. He’d apparently read an essay I published here on Judaism and child abuse. Something in it made him feel a certain small amount of kinship with me–or at least my background.
I proceeded warily to correspond on a more personal basis with him about our respective backgrounds (my childhood somewhat troubled, his I’d rather not characterize in order not to invade his privacy). A very small miracle happened (or at least it seemed that way from my side). We started to see each other as human beings and not as political enemies.
Let’s be clear, we’re not bosom buddies. We haven’t brought world peace. We still stand divided on the same issues we were divided about before. But so far, even when alluding to those issues we’re not using quite the same inflamed rhetoric we did before. We understand that despite our divisions we have an awful lot in common. Unfortunately, much of that centers around past suffering. But there is even a good measure of comfort in that.
For Naftali, he achieved some liberation from his past when he moved to kibbutz and began a new life as an oleh. For me, my liberation came about through the Camp Ramah Conservative movement’s summer camping program.
I’d say wonders never cease. But I don’t want to jinx this or put any undue burdens on whatever healing has happened. We’ll just hope for the best.
UPDATE: I am sorry to say that in December, 2008, Muenz resumed sending insulting, harrassing e mails to me and refused polite requests that he honor his previous agreement with me not to do so. When he refused, I republished a harsh post I’d written about him which will now be publicly accessible.
George is clearly a damaged person. But I’d hoped that whatever had happened before in his personal life might be put behind so that he and I could treat each other as human beings rather than cartoon characters. That hasn’t worked for George who has resorted to past aberrant behavior.