Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: Unorthodox

Unorthodox, the scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots: a memoir by Deborah Feldman is an intimate portrayal of a young woman growing up in an environment of religious constraint and slowly freeing herself from that environment.

That is her story, on the surface. If you read it from that perspective it will enlighten and provide you with an insight into her particular religious environment and beliefs. Her personal journey will also stand as an inspiration and testament to anyone else who wishes to move out of the confines of their particular religious constraints.

However, I recognize Deborah. In my opinion, she is much more than that and her story involves much more than that, in reality. So I’m not surprised that there is some controversy over her book and challenges to it.

She is one of us. She is the rebel, the square peg who can’t fit into the round hole, the person who is never satisfied and cannot be satisfied with the status quo, whatever it is. Whether that status quo be the constraints of creed (religious or otherwise), culture, gender, etc.

Her drive to be free, that hunger for freedom runs deep and it is firmly founded in her strong natural curiosity about everything.

That is what makes Deborah different. It’s what makes me and numerous others different. People like us exist across all cultures, creeds, genders, etc. And no matter what our environment is we do not and cannot fit into the status quo of that environment.

I can’t explain why. I don’t understand it myself. I only know that we exist and that we can identify and empathize with each other. Once we understand that we can’t fit in and don’t try to fit in, we can begin the process of accepting and appreciating ourselves for who we are. When we can do that, others will accept and appreciate us for who we are. Well, at least some will.

It’s okay not to fit in.  It’s okay to be different. We can’t be any other way no matter how much humiliation and abuse is heaped on us; no matter how many constraints are placed on us in our respective environments; no matter how much we are smeared for speaking our truths.

We don’t understand the sheeple and their passive acceptance of the status quo.

We are the innovators, the artists, the creative thinkers, the one’s that can think outside of the box. We are the ethicists, the one’s who consider social injustice an outrage and we can’t be silent about it. We have a driving need to change the status quo to better our world for ourselves and those around us.

We produce what we love to produce whether we get paid to produce or not. Our lives are driven by our passions and not by personal gain. Once we accept our difference and don’t allow it to stand in the way of our self-confidence (“faith in ourselves”) personal gain almost always comes along with the ride at some point because we are good at whatever it is that we choose to do.

If we didn’t exist, society would never advance because there would be no driving force for change.

Welcome to the club, Deborah. I look forward to reading more of what you have to offer.

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