Those who know me well agree I talk too much. Stories that could easily travel a straight and narrow road frequently take the long way around. I blabber an extra detail, can’t forget this part, and wait – there’s this other story I have to tell before finishing the first. Never have I ever been at a loss for words.
Until this once prolific writer, whose mind regularly incessantly chattered from the wee hours of sunrise to the dimming of the day, became silent.
What is there to say when, despite the human race knowing and learning and teaching, history repeats itself? When the pictures wallpapering Holocaust museums and words flooding Anne Frank’s diary are seamlessly given life and color, playing out over and over on every station in every country during every hour? When, once again, the death and destruction of one group results in hoots and hollers from another?
We teach our sons and daughters that it is never okay to hit and to hurt, and so I wonder, how did so many miss the lesson? Were they all home sick that day? Or fooling around in class? Or perhaps misguided?
I have no words for those committing atrocities. No words for those who bring home the terror happening thousands of miles away to inflict wounds on neighbors and friends because differences that used to not matter are now claiming center stage. And especially no words for innocent people – all religions and colors – raped and murdered, kidnapped and tortured.
I have no words for my students who, when discussing the conflicts between settlers and Native Americans, compare it to the current Middle East, accusing one nation of taking from another and brutality ensuing. Because what, dear G-d, do we tell the children?
“It’s important to look at all sides of every story,” I shout above the chatter.
If my students played a skin matching game, no two would pair. I choose words carefully, acutely aware I was the only one absent on Yom Kippur, wanting to assume the best, but trying not to be naive.
I have no words for the mother keeping her child home for fear the racist murder in a nearby town will become local. No words for the hostages going to sleep not knowing if they’ll wake. No words for those davening at the Western Wall, praying at the Temple Mount for something ever-more elusive.
There is insanity in an essay written about having no words, but so too is there paradox in fighting for harmony. Perhaps history will, once again, repeat itself, this time with a modern-day MLK. Or maybe somehow, people will become more sensible, realizing no one is winning when everyone is dying. Or possibly, there will be a great miracle that will happen there.
We can only hope…for the sake of our present and our future.