"I am standing in my power, and they will not make me a victim,"says my friend, who lives in Whitefish, Montana.
I am sitting in my neighborhood cafe on a Thursday morning, December 22, 2016. I am calling my friend because the day before, on Wednesday, December 21, an article appeared in The New York Times. It was titled "Police in Montana Step Up Patrols after Neo-Nazi Postings."
The article says: “Police in Whitefish, Montana said Tuesday that they have stepped up patrols, and are working with the F.B.I. after a neo-Nazi and white supremacist website listed the names and contacts of the local Jews, calling on readers to 'take actions' against them.”
I took the article with me that morning to have it on hand when I speak to my friend. The article also relates a post in the Daily Stormer: “. .. filled with anti-Semitic slurs, and in which yellow stars, reminiscent of the ones Jews were forced to wear by Nazis, were superimposed on the photographs of the targeted leaders.”
But then came a Chanukah miracle.
A few days before Chanukah, and two weeks after the neo-nazi website posted photos and contact information for several Jewish people in Whitefish and encouraged online harassment, a small group of volunteers gathered on a street corner in downtown Whitefish. http://mtpr.org/post/whitefish-celebrates-hanukkah-spite-harassment. They are part of Love Lives Here, a branch of the Montana Human Rights network. They were holding stacks of paper menorahs. “In response to the anti-semitic targeting of our local friends and neighbors in Whitefish, Love Lives Here invites everyone in the valley to hang a menorah in the window as a show of solidarity …” says one of the volunteers.
A few mornings later, paper menorahs peek from half the windows in downtown neighborhoods. “It’s a small thing, but for people who celebrate Chanukah every year as part of their Jewish faith, seeing menorahs in their neighbor’s windows means a lot," says one of the townspeople.
If you are from the human race, and someone gets targeted, then everybody gets targeted.” she adds. And then she wisely says: “We all have a low nature, we all have a high nature. Some of us live more in the low nature, some of us live more in the high nature. And some of us flip in between. The tendency of the mind is to divide and to separate. We all have to work with our mind and practice our high nature."
Later in the week, the tribal council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes issued a statement commending the Love Lives Here opposition to hatred and bigotry.
The Salish and Kootenai Tribes joined the Love Lives Here organization by sending a clear message that “...ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable, and have no place in the town of Whitefish, or in any community in Montana and across the nation.”
As this new year 2017 has started, it is a good time to remember the words of the Whitefish town’s person: “Let us practice our high nature towards harmonizing and uniting.”
May the year 2017 be a year in which we together use every opportunity to go from our “low nature” which divides and fragments us, to our "high nature" which harmonizes and unites us.
With a sense of deep purpose,
Hedy & Yumi