There is something delightful to our young ones about playing games of a “good guys,” vs. “bad guys.” My kiddo is obsessed with this storyline. It happens again and again with every configuration of toys. There’s a “bad car” that steals dog food and needs to be chased down by a “good car,” toy boats in constant pursuit of, yet again, dog food thieves, and Paw Patrol toys forever in search of stolen Chickalettas (not dog food, surprisingly).
Scarcity and competition are built into our nature, so we must work extra hard to de-program the proverbial notion of “us v. them.” It is so easy to write people off as “bad” when we disagree with them, or when they have wronged us. It is perhaps the easiest thing to do, and yet, it leads us nowhere; nor at least, nowhere good. I find myself saying, “there are no bad people, only hurtful actions,” and using the word, “villain,” or more precisely, “thief” instead of “bad guy.” I know it’s an uphill battle, and that as soon as my kiddo returns to daycare, the work will be undone; but that, it seems, is part of the message of these High Holy Days.
We just spent the day reciting collective wrongdoings, “ashamnu,” we have gone astray. “Al chet shechatanu…” For the ways in which we have missed the mark. When it comes to Yom Kippur, there is no “us vs. them”; there is only we. We are all in this together, whether we like it (or each other) or not. May 5782 be the year we remind ourselves of that daily and spread more understanding and care outward into the world.