Lessons from Last Year
(Live service, 6 January 2018, 2200 UTC)
In the Jewish religion, after a new year begins on the holiday Rosh Hashana there is a holiday called Yom Kippur. It’s considered the holiest day on the traditional Jewish calendar and it centers on the themes of repentance, reflection, and atonement.
With this month’s sermon theme (Tradition, yet Originality) together with the passing of 2017 into 2018, I think it’s fitting to reflect on the previous year like the Jewish people do. Not only to see how we have grown, but also to recognize mistakes and problems so that we may solve them.
Here at TOTJO things have been generally peaceful,but we have had some trials and disputes among members. Some of it has been dramatic, to say the least, with insults and accusations being thrown around.
I am not here to disparage those who engaged in that, since we all have done it. Lost our temper, used words we didn’t mean, fell to our emotional reactions. Still, there are lessons to be learned from those disputes and how we each deal with pressure.
Take a moment now or during your meditation practice to consider: Could I have been less violent, less angry, and more compassionate last year? Did I offend someone unnecessarily or hurt them (physically or emotionally)? Why? And have I done my best to right those wrongs?
There has been a lot of good progress here, too! The council has expanded, a meditation board has been added where Jedi share their practices, and continued maintenance of the website has improved many of the broken links and outdated information, just to name a few things.
But the Temple is just one part of this world, and there are big problems on the horizon outside of it. In Germany, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) – a German nationalist party – has increased in popularity (and voting potential) with their federal elections.
I believe most people with an understanding of World War II know why those nationalistic and supremacist movements are a problem. Certainly, it should worry the Middle Eastern and African refugees who have been seeking refuge in the EU. This is only one nationalist group, but it seems to represent a growing trend of nationalism and supremacy movements in Europe and the United States.
Here in the US, protesters fighting in the street are becoming more and more common. The leader of the nation threatens nuclear strikes regularly. 2017 was not really a year of good diplomacy, something which must be improved in this new year.
Beyond Europe and the United States, wars are still being fought. People are still being killed. In Libya, there is even an active slave trade where people are captured and then sold as property.
There is little that we, as individuals, can do about the rise of nationalism on a global scale, or nuclear war, or the slavery auctions in Libya. In many cases the best we can do is to reflect on what has happened and why.
By taking careful consideration of those things we have overcome (or are still going through) – as Jedi, individuals, families, nations – we can do just a little better than we did last year.
Thank you for considering these things with me. I’ll end here by reading the Creed; feel free to join me.
I am a Jedi, an instrument of peace;
Where there is hatred I shall bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
I am a Jedi.
I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Force is with me always, for I am a Jedi.