I am Not an Individual
By Justin Amler
There are many people who stand proud, proclaiming they are individual thinkers, separate from the masses, not subject to the primitive whims of an ancient calling. But not me! I’m about as primitive as you can get!
You see, I’m not an individual, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own thoughts or feelings or my own crazy way of doing things, like eating Eskal pickled cucumbers from Israel (in your face BDS!) and then washing them down with a cup of tea!
Because through some clink in the cosmos, and some shift in the winds, and some twirling twist of fate, I find myself part of a group of people whose future and mine will be forever bonded. And while waiting in the starry skies above (at least that’s what my mom said), I didn’t ask to be born to any particular group and yet I was – part of a group that have a proud history of bringing a lot of light into this world – and not even just this one! Even now, another member of my group is leading a mission to a faraway world in our own Solar System.
For too long in this world of ME and I, we think of ourselves as individuals, when really, we’re part of a group, and in my group, the individualism that we feel is an expression of that group, rather than the group being an expression of that individualism.
We focus too much on individuality while forgetting how fortunate we are to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. And in this world we, the Jewish people, are not viewed as individuals, but as a group anyway.
In the killings fields of Europe during World War 2, Nazi Germany and the rest of the world did not view us an individuals, but as part of a group.
It did not matter our personal beliefs, our political outlook or whether where we religious or not. We were Jews, which made us the enemy of Germany and its allies, and the ‘undesirables’ to the rest of the world. As a people we stood alone.
And in 1948, when our fledging state was fighting not for land, or territory, or honour – but survival, again we stood alone. There may have been some support of course, but there were no knights in shining armour ready to step in, or countries ready to defend us, or armies ready to deploy and protect our people. We were effectively alone.
And in 1967, surrounded by Arab countries who threatened our complete annihilation, we were once again advised not to defend ourselves. And as the drums of war were beating and the Arab armies were in frenzy salivating at the thought of the bloodlust they were going to unleash – no countries or armies were mobilising in anticipation of our defence. No urgent UN resolutions were being drafted, no late night Security Council sessions convened. Again, we were effectively alone.
And today, while the world powers have signed a deal worth less than the paper it’s written on with the foremost sponsor of terrorism in this world – a country that dreams and talks of our destruction, we found ourselves standing on the hill. Alone. Again.
But that’s the thing about being Jewish in a world where the enemies of freedom are awarded and the true fighters for freedom are ignored.
As a nation, we may dwell alone, but as individuals we never are. Because I’m fortunate to be part of this thread of history that is being continuously woven through time. And when I am gone, I may not be remembered, but my people certainly will. And they are all my people – from the Chief Rabbi of Israel to the guy who ripped me off by selling me an empty CD cover at the Central Bus Terminal in Tel Aviv – yeah you!
I’m not an individual because my parents and their parents and their parents before them for hundreds and thousands of years held onto their identity and held on to their beliefs and held on to their way of the life against all the gravity and might of all the forces of the world that pushed against them. They held on – to not disappear into the wilderness from where there is no return.
They held on, and because they did, it means that I stand here today, not as an individual, but as part of something so much more.
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based columnist who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and is currently working in the Information Technology industry. He is a regular contributor to international publications, including the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. Justin is also a valued Israel Forever blogger, writing about his connection to the Jewish state. You can reach Justin on Twitter, Facebook and through Google+.