Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
The Scriptures are filled with anecdotes describing acts of one human being toward another to enhance their values and encourage humanities’ call for good. There are so many ways to accomplish benevolence and consideration.
Hopefully, during our journey we will encounter individuals who personify the essence of dignified human behavior. I was thinking of this as I watched a movie entitled St. Vincent. I expected to laugh myself silly, but instead I left with a better understanding of the goodness of people and how they are overlooked at times.
We find a grumpy old man, dissatisfied with life, unable to cope with everyday living and resentful of people in general. The storyline is interesting because, in my experience, it could be depicting any one of us. Then, we come across someone who lights up our lives, brings meaning to our experiences and leads into a new understanding that there is goodness in this world. We are so accustomed to hearing only the ugly side of life.
This leads us to question the value of goodness. The people who make a difference in our lives epitomize another concept, that deeds of kindness are equal to all the commandments. How can we exist without connection to each other? If we lived in a vacuum, our lives would be meaningless.
We are all products of our environments. Some of us are trapped by them and some are able to break loose and change what is deemed unfit. We are taught that God does not care what our ancestors did, but what we do at this time. While Scripture may talk about the sins of the past generations carrying forward to the next, it is not a signal that all is hopeless; rather it is an indication that if we do not change our ways, in some respects, we are destined to repeat the bad and thereby condemn ourselves to a life of pain and misery.
Goodness can be found deep down if we look hard enough. We should try not to dismiss the values we are capable of. We should not discard those who epitomize these virtues. We should instead honor them. We may not be able to be considered saints, but the handle is not the important aspect of goodness. Actions and deeds are the passport to saintliness.
All these thoughts came to mind when I saw the movie. However, the most important message, I believe relates to the annual Choral Festival performed by choirs from all houses of worship in Sun Lakes preceding the holidays of Easter and Passover. This year the interfaith choirs of our community will perform on March 8 at 3:00 p.m. at the Sun Lakes United Methodist Church. It is a time of gathering and offering, not only of our resources to support Neighbors Who Care, but also ourselves in an effort to realize the ultimate accomplishment of redemption, renewal and salvation. Let us all say Amen to that!