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June 30, 2022

Rabbi Mendel Liberow: How to create a violence-free world

In Uvalde, one person changed the world. 

A single individual—whose motives remain unknown—chose to commit a heinous act, and young lives full of promise ended abruptly. Twenty-one people whose journeys were cut short. Seventeen more wounded. Families plunged into grief. All because of one evil person.

He chose to change the world for the worse, and acted upon that choice. 

It wasn’t too long ago that the terror struck here, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019. Then as well a single individual, whose motives have never been determined, decided to impact the lives of everyone around him in the most negative way possible. I spoke to friends who were there, who fled in fear as the shots rang out around them. Three dead, 17 wounded. 

One person’s choice.

One person can change the world.

One person, one good deed, one smile or kind word, and a life can be changed for the better! Every person has the ability to impact others, to inspire growth and life.

We must teach our children that they have this ability. Each of them has endless potential and unlimited power. They can save lives, they can impact the community, they can make a huge difference in the world. Of course, we must teach our children to shun violence. But teach them, also, that they have the power to improve the lives of those around them by acting kindly and compassionately.

We are united in wishing for a world free of violence and hate. The key to actualizing this aspiration is education; creating the next generation of young people inspired to change the world for the better; young people who are deeply cognizant of the value of human life and the tremendous positive impact they have the potential to bring.

And the same applies to the way we write and speak about the world around us. Negativity bias is a driver of much of the news we absorb each day, which incentivizes media outlets to focus on tragedy rather than inspiration. Simply put: more people will read an article about an evil person who has changed the world for the worse than about a good person who has changed the world for the better.

But perhaps an added focus on stories of positive change would create a snowball effect, inspiring others to be copycats—not of heinous acts of murder, but of noble acts of goodness and kindness.

If we want the world to be a place that we’re proud to call home, we have to change it. It doesn’t take much; it starts with a single decision, a single deed. Teach this lesson to your children; they’ll teach it to theirs, and the goodness will multiply.

One person can change the world. Let’s change it for the better.

Rabbi Mendel Liberow is the director of Chabad South County Jewish Center in Morgan Hill, which offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For information, visit JewishMH.com

Please be in touch with any comments, questions or feedback at [email protected]

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