Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.
A Bat Mitzvah is a coming-of-age ceremony followed by a party for Jewish 13-year old girls. It's the counterpart to a Bar Mitzvah, the same event for boys. I saw three wonderful young teens do this thing this weekend. They were priviledged Upper West Side Manhattenites. They performed their parts of the religious service admirably and their speeches were inspiring. All three had absorbed their grandparents' European holocaust or war experiences and understood the nature of human tragedy, two of them even on a personal level. They saw beyond their cool crowd, intellectually-astute, athletic and cultured upbringing and knew that it is their duty to carry on tradition, to honor their ancestors' sacrifices, and to go good in the world. Their concepts of religion and God vary, the one expressed most being a binding and overwhelming force which unites their People through tribulation and forms "a collective consciousness."
I ask only one thing. Why just their People (e.g., the Jewish people). Why not "all people?" Certainly, we all have more in common than what separates us. When we put people in close proximity and give them an oppportunity or a push to cooperate on an issue, whether it's an "us vs. them" situation or a project of joint interest, they come together. They notice that their thinking and feelings, their habits and needs, their abilities and weakness are human, alike or different among the individuals in a group but not that much different from one race, ethnic group, national group, social group, etc. as stereotypes would insinuate. Social psychology, over and over, shows that people join forces well when they have to. They become friends by being together, working together, playing together, even fighting together. They bond.
So, thinking about all the tension around the world, the wars, the controversy and the crime, it really takes an effort to keep the hostility going and leaders of factions, national, religious and other groupings, manage to do so with their hostile panache. If only we could all learn from these young kids and "let the Force be with us," whatever our individual interpretation of that Force is.