Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Heart Live! On Screen!

By Susan Esther Barnes

When I was in college, I received a letter saying I had been randomly selected to participate in a medical study called Cardia which was being conducted in four cities in the US. The purpose of the study was to learn about how heart disease develops in young adults.

What they didn't tell us at the time, or perhaps I wasn't paying attention, was that if they could get ongoing funding, their intention was to keep track of us throughout our lives, testing us every few years, and seeing who among us was developing heart disease so they could compare their test results with those of us whose hearts are still going strong.

This explains why, recently, I found myself in the room pictured above, with the cool lions should lie down with lambs poster, getting an echocardiogram. Rather than just the boring test we've all seen that produces nothing more than a wavy line on a piece of paper, this test included the use of sound waves to show the structure and functioning of my heart on a computer screen.

So I got to lie there, looking at the different chambers in my heart pumping, and my heart valves opening and closing, in real time. They also do some cool color coding so I could see the speed and direction of the blood flow (just with sound waves, without pumping any yucky stuff into me), so I could actually see the blood flowing from my lungs into one chamber, the valve closing, and another valve opening while the chamber contracted and pushed the blood out into my body. Too cool.

Of course I started by describing the most fun part, and skipped over some other parts, like the four multi-page consent forms I had to sign, the multiple vials of blood they took, and the glucose tolerance test that includes drinking a bottle of sickly sweet orange drink which probably had about 8 million calories and left my stomach feeling angry for hours.

On the upside, though, the lab staff was great, and kept me well distracted while they were taking my blood. Which is a good thing, because if they let me brood on what they're doing, my blood pressure drops, and in past years they've had to stroke my arm to try to squeeze enough blood out into the tubes. And we won't talk about the one year when they assaulted me with smelling salts.

This year they didn't do anything like they had in the past to try to raise our blood pressure to see how high it would go. The most effective method they have of doing this is the treadmill test, which keeps raising the angle and speed until you cry "Uncle!"

One year they tried to make us play the (not so old at the time) "Breakout" video game (basically using a "paddle" to make a bouncing "ball" break a "wall"), but so many of us were so bad at the game we lost before they had time to take our blood pressure. Another time, they had us hold our arm in a bucket of icewater for 60 seconds. It may not sound like a big deal, but you try it some time. It was so painful a bunch of the study participants threatened to never come back, and they had to promise us they would never do it again.

As they like to remind us from time to time, the longer the study goes on, the more precious and irreplaceable we are. There is no other group they can draw from that has this same pool of data from the last 25 years.

Yes, at the risk of dating myself, as the T-shirt says, this study has been going on for 25 years now. But they're not always testing the same things. For instance, the heart function test I mentioned above tested for some factors that are now known to be indicators of heart disease, but included some new measurements they think might be predictive, and are gathering data on now.

This year, for the first time (that I recall), they did a congnitive test, which included asking me to listen to a long list of random words and then repeat back as many of them as I could remember. They did this a few times with the same list of words, and then did it once with a second list of words. Then they got all tricky on me asked me to go back and say as many words as I could from the first list without me saying any of the words on the second list.

Lucky me, it turns out that I qualify for a brain MRI test they also want to do, so I get to go do that and a CTI scan of my heart next month.

It's all a bit inconvenient, but it's a mitzvah, I do get to see some cool test results, and I feel good about contributing to medical knowledge that could help future generations live longer (and has already resulted in a bunch of publications). Plus, I can't say enough about how professional, helpful and friendly all the Cardia staff are.

So stay healthy, and the next time you read about a study that shows a new way to predict or prevent heart disease, think of me!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Giffords a Jew, or is She Just Jew-ish?

By Susan Esther Barnes

In all the greater storm about the shooting of Representative Giffords, may she and all those wounded on that day have a full and speedy recovery, on the side there is a tempest in a teapot about whether the Jewish press should refer to her as Jewish. She is an active member of a Reform synagogue, but her Jewish roots are on her father’s side, not her mother’s.

In the world of Reform Judaism, one is considered Jewish if one is raised Jewish and either parent is Jewish. In Orthodox Judaism, one is considered Jewish only if one’s mother is Jewish, or if one converts to Judaism in an Orthodox conversion process. So as far as Giffords and her synagogue are concerned, she’s a Jew, but as far as an Orthodox person is concerned, she is not.

Although there are some who refer to others as “half Jewish,” I don’t believe there is such a thing. Either you are Jewish, or you are not. The question is, where do you draw the line? And who gets to say where that line should be drawn?

It is troubling to me that an ordained rabbi can work with someone as they go through their conversion process, and declare that person Jewish, only to have other people deny the Jewishness of that person.

In Israel, there are thousands of soldiers who moved to Israel from Russia and converted while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, but who the Chief Rabbinate has declared as still not halachically Jewish.

Is this what God wants? I don’t think so.

These claims about who is, or is not, halachically Jewish are made as if there is no disagreement as to the interpretation of halacha. In fact, halacha has been debated and changed over the years, as our understanding of God, humans, and the world around us has evolved.

We are taught that all Jewish souls, both those on earth at the time and all those as yet unborn, were present when God made the covenant that created the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai. Many of those souls are here on earth now, seeking to join their people through the process we call conversion.

To deny them their rightful place among us, to push them out by saying their rabbincally supervised conversion is not halachically acceptable, strikes me as an unconscionable disregard of God’s will, an enormous chillul hashem - desecration of God’s name.

It is well past time for us to recognize that matters of halacha have never been settled. Different people interpret the law differently. Each person must follow his or her own beliefs about the right interpretation, according to the teachings of their rabbinic authority. At the same time, we need to recognize that differences do exist, and concede that the only one who truly knows God’s will is God.

So let’s honor the good will, knowledge and authority of the rabbis – all of them – and accept anyone declared by a rabbi to be Jewish as Jewish, and let God be the final arbiter.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Discovering Meaning in Ritual

By Susan Esther Barnes

Often, when I hear people say they are not religious, or they want to explain why they don’t come to services more often, they say they’re not interested in meaningless ritual. That sentiment is certainly something we have in common! What is implied, however, is that they find most, if not all, ritual to be meaningless. I would argue this is a misconception.

Ritual is so much a part of our lives, it’s easy not to recognize it for what it is. Ritual, and its inherent meaning, is more easily recognized when it stops, because that is when you miss it.

For example, I’m one of those people who can’t sleep through the night without having to get up at least once or twice. When my husband and I were first married, every time I crawled back into bed I would find a piece of him – a hand, his head, whatever – sticking out from under the covers, and kiss it.

Then came one very cold night. When I got back into bed, I saw he had the covers pulled up over his head. There was no skin sticking out anywhere at all. I didn’t want to lift the covers off of him to find a place to kiss, because I didn’t want the cold air to rush in and wake him up. “He’s asleep anyway,” I thought, “It’s not like he’s even aware I’ve been doing this.” So I lay down to go to sleep.

Suddenly, I heard a drowsy voice beside me saying, “What, no kiss?” To my surprise, even though he had never mentioned it, he had been aware of the ritual, and he missed it the first time it didn’t happen.

Similarly, most people in the US are used to receiving a cake on their birthday, as well as a chorus of people singing, “Happy Birthday to You.” If, for some reason, this doesn’t happen, most of us would feel disappointed, let down, almost as if the birthday hadn’t really happened.

This is because ritual is meaningful to us. It connects our present to our past, and to other generations. We are hard wired for it. If we don’t have enough rituals in our lives, we will invent some, whether it’s pizza every Wednesday night, or a stop by Starbucks in the morning, or whatever fits the bill.

TV producers picked up on the importance of ritual long ago, and they have never forgotten the lesson. Carol Burnett ended all of her shows by singing, “I’m so Glad We Had This Time Together.” What would the show “Good Times” have been without Jimmie Walker saying, “Kid Dy-no-mite!” or what would happen if the creators of “Survivor” suddenly decided not to snuff out a torch every time a person is voted off the island?

These actions are rituals. On the surface, they may appear to be meaningless, but we know they are not, because we would feel a sense of incompleteness, almost a sense of being cheated, if they were omitted.

Who could have predicted that a particular song, or phrase, or a snuffed torch, could become important to us? We couldn’t know for sure in advance. The first time we experienced each of these things, for most of us, they felt like no big deal. It is only through repetition and familiarity that they grew in importance and gained in meaning.

And so it is with religious ritual. It makes no sense for someone to light Shabbat candles just once and then say, “Well, that did nothing for me, so I won’t ever do it again.” It is only by repeating a ritual multiple times, giving it a chance to sink in and become a part of our lives, that we can start to discover what meaning, if any, it may have for us.

We were told on Mount Sinai, as recorded in the Torah in Sh’mot 24:7, “na’aseh v’nishma” – “We will do and we will understand.” It is the doing that comes first; the understanding doesn’t come until later. When contemplating a ritual that is new to me, I need to see how it fits, through repetition over time, before I can even begin to decide whether it is something that will have meaning for me.

After all, the first several times you try almost anything new, it’s hard not to feel self conscious and awkward. It takes time and repetition before you can relax and actually experience a new thing in its own right without having these kinds of other feelings get in the way.

And while having cake on my birthday is delicious, and seeing a torch snuffed gives me a certain sense of finality, it is only religious ritual which brings me a sense of closeness to God and to something bigger, and more universal, than I get with those secular rituals.

No, I am not interested in the least in meaningless ritual. To the contrary, since I know I’m going to have ritual in my life one way or the other, I want to find the most meaningful rituals I can. That is why I am willing to put in the time and effort to repeat new religious rituals over time, in order to discover what depth of meaning they may hold for me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Collateral Damage

By Susan Esther Barnes

I keep thinking about how Congresswoman Giffords, the one person the shooter in Tucson last week really wanted to kill, seems to be doing so well, while a half dozen others died who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That's what they call "collateral damage," the damage that is incidental to the shooter's desired outcome. Not to minimize the loss of the family and friends of these people - not at all - it just makes a senseless shooting even more senseless. The pain and grief and tragedy are the same, and everyone there (other than the shoorter himself) was blameless.

The point I'm getting around to is this: collateral damage, when it manifests itself as killed and injured people, is easily seen and recognized. But there is another kind of collateral damage which is less visible, and which people seem more likely to overlook.

An example of this less visible collateral damage arose in a conversation I had online last week in the comments section of a post I had read. A person from "Jewish Voice for Peace" asserted that shouting down Prime Minister Netanyahu so he could not speak does not constitute bullying.

Setting aside what I think was a false premise on his part (namely, that powerful people cannot, by definition, be bullied, and/or that it is okay to bully powerful people), he completely ignored that the Prime Minister and the hecklers were not the only people in the room.

When this sort of thing happens, or at least when it seems to make the news, is when there are a roomful of people who have come for the express purpose of hearing what the speaker is intending to say. When one shouts down a scheduled speaker, one is not only thwarting the will of the speaker himself (or herself), but is acting in a bullying and agressive manner toward everyone in the audience.

These audience members are the ones suffering the forgotten collateral damage in these events; I seldom hear them mentioned. Their frustration and anger remains unseen and unheard.

One could argue that maybe it isn't such a big deal. One evening is ruined, perhaps. Maybe the organization that did the shouting will lose some potential supporters who were audience members but who are now turned off by their tactics.

But there are other examples of collateral damage that we don't ever seem to talk about.

There are plenty of discussions about the death penalty that talk about deterrence, about disproportionate numbers of people from certain racial or economic backgrounds being effected, about revenge, etc. In all these discussions, the collateral damage is being ignored.

When a person is executed, why doesn't anyone talk about the effect on the officers who have to guard her in her last days? What about the poor souls who have to drag the condemmed person out of his cell and strap him down, knowing that they are participating in the killing of a helpless person? What about the doctor who has sworn to save lives, but who is defying his or her oath by administering the killing drugs?

The psychological effects on these people must be deep and lasting. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about them? Must they remain as the invisible collateral damage?

Havail Havelim #300

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack.

Opinions expressed in the posts linked below are those of the respective bloggers and not necessarily endorsed by me.

In Memory of Debbie Friedman:
To paraphrase my rabbi, Michael Lezak, if you have ever sung to guitar music in a synagogue, you have Debbie Friedman to thank for it. She was a courageous trailblazer who wasn't afraid to question the status quo. She was a spiritual woman and a highly gifted composer and singer, who inspired thousands of Jews in the US and beyond, whose music brought many of us closer to God. You can watch her funeral here. May her memory and her songs be a blessing forever.

Phyllis writes a short but sweet tribute in A Legacy of Song posted at Ima on (and off) the Bima: Real-Life Jewish Parenting.

The J Weekly of San Francisco presents Debbie Friedman, Jewish Songwriter and Performer, Dies posted at J Weekly. A letter from the HUC at the end of the article includes the following quote: "It was kol isha (the voice of women) for col isha (every woman) that inspired me to write inclusive music," said Debbie Friedman. "It is beneficial not only for women, but for men and children as well."

Melanie Nathan writes about Debbie in Beloved Jewish Spiritual Icon & Songwriter, Debbie Friedman, Dies posted at Lez Get Real.

I wasn't sure whether to post this one. Whether or not Debbie was a lesbian (and I don't know whether she was) it was her right to decide whether or not to discuss it in public, so I feel uncomfortable when people who didn't know her personally write as if they know what her sexuality was and have a right to discuss it in public after she is dead. Alana presents Debbie Friedman and the Tragedy of the Closet posted at Jewschool.

Mazel tov to Rachel Barenblat who writes about her simcha in Three scenes from the day of my smicha posted at Velveteen Rabbi.

Find information and activities for Tu B'Shvat from Jacob Richman in Tu B'Shvat Educational Websites and Videos posted at Good News from Israel.

Read about "Who is a Jew" as Batya presents What's a Jew? One of my Only in Israel stories. posted at Shiloh Musings. Don't miss the interesting comments section!

Here is a post about Shabbat Shirah from Mordechai Torczyner in Finding our way to song on Shabbat Shirah posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver presents The Tzaddik's power to nullify decrees posted at A Chassidishe farbrengen.

Yisroel Reiss shows us how a picture can be worth a thousand words, but also adds some words in case we might not at first see what he sees in It's Time To Be An Optimist For Israel posted at Artzeinu.

Hitchhiking calls for mutual trust, as Davebender reminds us in Israel: Hitchhiking Home posted at Israel At Level Ground.

Batya got to see a relative on a Birthright trip! Read about it in Birthright, Taglit, Valuable Program posted at me-ander.

Read about a wonderful dining experience by Rutimizrachi in "...where everybody knows your name..." #4 posted at Ki Yachol Nuchal!.

Harry writes about Mickey Mouse in Haifa in Goofy and Pluto find a home in Haifa posted at Israelity.

Lady-Light presents an interesting scientific find from Israel in Squeeze Left - Think Better (aka: Weird Science) posted at Tikkun Olam.

When Harry says "Four more years!" it has nothing to do with the next US presidential election in Four years ’til tomorrow posted at ISRAELITY.

This wasn't submitted to the Carnival, but it's such a well written piece about term "blood libel" and whether it was appropriate for Sarah Palin to use it that I couldn't resist including it: Is Blood Label a Generic Expression? posted at Kylopod's Blog.

Yisrael Medad writes about the EU Heads of Mission document in Ew, EU, Part Two posted at My Right Word.

Batya presents an interview about hasbara in Melanie Philips' Brilliant, But Too Polite, IBA Interview posted at Shiloh Musings.

Mordechai Torczyner posts an old video with some familiar voices in 1948 UJA video with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

A one state solution is discussed by SnoopyTheGoon in Two hot potatoes or only one: one state solution for Middle East posted at Simply Jews.

Independent Patriot/Elise presents The Unmentioned Tragedy in Arizona posted at Liberty's Spirit. The person who sent this in included this note: "I am not sure if this fits into this blog carnival but it is a very important greatly overlooked issue to discuss considering what happened in Tuscon." I'm not going to argue with that.

Cosmic X is obviously not a big fan of Knesset member Einat Wilf, as expressed in Who's Afraid of Einat Wilf? posted at Cosmic X in Jerusalem.

Cosmic X presents Links Between B'Tselem, Terror Funds Reported posted at Cosmic X in Jerusalem.

I make an embarrasing admission in Ok, I Admit It: I'm Religious posted at To Kiss a Mezuzah.

Rutimizrachi tries to express a little gratitude in Todah Rebuffed posted at Ki Yachol Nuchal!.

See a picture of some good eats as Cosmic X presents Fruit From the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat posted at Cosmic X in Jerusalem.

It's never too late to learn, as demonstrated in a lovely piece by Risa called Aging in the Computer Age posted at Isramom.

And while we're learning, here are some book recommendations from Phyllis in Book Recommendations posted at Ima on (and off) the Bima: Real-Life Jewish Parenting.

Harry writes about one of his favorite vocalists in You say Basya, I say Batya, it’s all great music posted at ISRAELITY.

Yisrael Medadq discusses the meaning of a Hebrew word in My Right Word: The Hebrew in "Black Swan" posted at My Right Word.

Rickismom interprets song lyrics in “When You Believe” posted at Beneath the Wings.

Allison Josephs gives advice to a young woman who's trying to find a suitable husband in Help! I Can't Find a Husband Because I'm too Religious for Some and Not Enough for Others | Jew In The City posted at Jew in the City.

Benji Lovitt shares a video with us in WWZ Vlog #4: Size Doesn't Matter posted at What War Zone???.

Yisrael Medad asks whether Amy is looking for a good place to build a succah in regard to a photo of her in My Right Word: Amy Winehouse Checking Out New Succah Location posted at My Right Word.

Elle presents a lovely story in The Box posted at On Becoming Devoted.

Find out why a friend jokingly wrote, "100% salmon free!" on the challah I picked up from the synagogue kitchen on Thursday night in It's Good to be Alive posted at To Kiss a Mezuzah.

Rutimizrachi presents a truly lovely piece in Ema's Pearl Necklace posted at Aim HaBanim Smaicha.

Frozenchallah writes one for the "from the mouths of babes" section in She Said What? posted at Frozenchallah's Blog.

Chaviva writes about an unpleasant encounter in Reliving the Bible Slap posted at Just Call Me Chaviva.

Some beautiful traditions can be modernized in lovely ways as Mrs. S. shows us in And you shall teach them to your children posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress.

Rickismom shows us some art and asks for our interpretations in A Contest (Guessing Game?) posted at Beneath the Wings.

Batya writes about what was almost a trolley ride in The Last Brooklyn Trolley... posted at Shiloh Musings.

Read about finding a happy home in Homeshuling's Northampton, Massachusetts: Is it good for the Jews? - Homeshuling posted at Home-shuling.

Batya presents PalYam, Illegal Immigrant Ship Volunteer, Hero's Granddaughter in Israel on Birthright! posted at me-ander.

Batya presents Survival vs "Living" posted at Shiloh Musings.

How you can participate:
You may submit your blog post for the next edition of Haveil Havalim by using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's Good to be Alive

By Susan Esther Barnes
with art by Laurie at Urchinator

Last night was the first Friday of the month, which means our synagogue held its monthy free congregatinal dinner after services. Everyone is invited.

We've been having these dinners for a few years now, and up until last night nothing even remotely threatening had ever revealed itself to me at any of them. So I had grown atypically unwary by the time I was ready to help myself to a big plate of pasta primavera. Just before I sat down, an aquaintance said to me, "The pasta is great! I think there's salmon in it."

I had noticed something reddish in the pasta, but I had assumed it was bell pepper. I leaned in a little closer, and sure enough, among the bow ties and peas and such, there were little bits of flaky pink things that looked suspiciously like salmon.

Of course, that is no big deal to the lox and bagel set. But it's something else entirely for someone like me with an allergy bad enough so the last time I tasted rice from the fork of someone who had been eating salmon, it caused my throat to swell to the point it was difficult to swallow.

It seems God must have been watching over me for me to be lucky enough to have someone inadvertently warn me about the salmon in such a timely manner.

Had I not received the warning, it's possible I would have taken one forkful and then spat it out upon recognizing the salmon taste. It wouldn't have been pretty, and I may have experienced some discomfort in my mouth and throat, but most likely I would have been fine.

But if I weren't so quick on the uptake, and I had swallowed some of it, things most likely would have gone downhill for me rather quickly. My evening could have included a dash to my car for my epinephrine injector, a ride in an ambulance, and some quality time in an ER or even the morgue.

After I got home and told my husband what had happened, he said he wished I didn't have such a severe allergy. Clearly, he wants me to stay alive a while longer. I do, too, but I can't find it in myself to wish I didn't have this allergy.

Incidents like this one remind me of how fragile life is, and make me feel grateful to be alive. This morning, when I thanked God for returning my soul to me, I said it with more emunah, or faithfulness, than I usually do.

Naturally, I started to think about what things would have been like if I hadn't received the warning and as a result I hadn't been able to make it to services this morning. I expect the clergy and my friends would have been at least startled about my crisis the night before.

Still, the bar mitzvah ceremony would have gone on. There still would have been a man standing in the aisle with a small boy in his arms while the bar mitzvah boy carried the Torah scroll through the congregation. The man still would have taken the little boy's hand and used it to gently stroke the Torah once, twice, three times.

But if I had not been there to see it, I would not have had the opportunity to tell that man how his gesture of passing love of the Torah down through the generations had made my eyes well up with tears. And he would have lost the opportunity to thank me for saying so, and to have his eyes well up with tears as we agreed what a sweet and holy moment it was.

So, yes, it is good to be alive, and it is good sometimes to be reminded of just how good it is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ok, I Admit It: I'm Religious

By Susan Esther Barnes

I’m religious. I’m going to guess this doesn’t come as a great surprise to readers of my blog. I have to say, though, it did sneak up on me slowly over time, and it’s not something I often admit to myself in so many words.

This was brought to my attention a few weeks ago when I was speaking with someone who was at our synagogue for the first time. After some small talk, he asked, “Are you religious?” and I said, “Yes,” but then I immediately felt embarrassed. “He’s going to think I’m a nut,” I thought, regretting my hasty response.

But why should I feel embarrassed? Maybe it’s because when I think of the word “religious” a whole bunch of images come to mind that don’t represent me at all. These include faith healers, people who shout, “Praise Jesus!” repeatedly, Orthodox Jewish women who think it’s immodest to let their own hair be seen in public but who think it’s okay to wear someone else’s real human hair instead in the form of a wig, priests, nuns in traditional habits, Jewish men hurling chairs across the mechitza at the Women of the Wall, etc.

As Rabbi Lezak says, why should we let other people define for us what it means to be religious? Isn’t it way past time for the word to be reclaimed by those of us who may be more moderate than some of those listed above?

I used to think religious people were either out of touch with reality or hypocrites. Out of touch with reality for believing things that can’t be real, like the parting of the Red Sea or the resurrection of Jesus, or hypocritical for following a religion even though they don’t believe in some or all of the things it says are true.

However, that analysis relies on the assumption that religious people have to take the Bible literally. I have since learned that a person can look at it as a source of inspiration and learning without believing that everything happened exactly like it says. Which is a good thing, since there are several places where the Bible gives more than one, contradictory, version of events (such as the creation of humans in Genesis).

So that begs the question, what do I mean when I say I’m religious? Is it that I go to synagogue most Friday nights and most Saturday mornings? I have talked to plenty of people who go to services who say they’re not particularly religious.

Is it that I learn about the mitzvot (commandments) and try to find ways to incorporate them into my life? No, I think people who do that to excess are edging closer to obsessive compulsive than they are to being religious.

Is it because I believe in God? Is it that I talk with God pretty much every day? I think that’s getting closer to it. I bought a piece of art in Tzfat in Israel that says “Ein od malvado,” which means, “There is nothing but God.” I see a bit of God in everything, from every person I meet to every tree and plant, and even in inanimate objects. I guess that makes me religious.

The thing is, I feel incredibly uncomfortable with much of what I wrote in the paragraph above, even though it’s all absolutely true. There is a part of me that is concerned it’s possible those feelings and beliefs mean I’m crazy.

To show how irrational my discomfort is, the clergy people at my synagogue are religious, but, on average, I don't think they're any more crazy than the average Joe. It makes no sense for me to think religious equals crazy for me but not for them.

So the only reasonable option I see is to go forward in the world believing what I believe and feeling what I feel. And as long as I remain a fully functioning, upstanding member of society, I guess that’s okay. Even if it may be a bit embarrassing from time to time.