Much has been written about Korach, the “protagonist” of this week’s Torah portion. Most of it isn’t particularly nice.
He’s the person who confronted Moses, saying, essentially, Who do you think you are, bigshot?? He thought that he deserved to be the people’s leader as they marched through the desert, and to bolster his point he gathered 250 others to back him up.
His argument? That everyone in the community was equally holy. While that may have been true (after all, back in Exodus God told them as much) it also was true that not everyone in the community was equally capable.
In other words, as Rabbi Brad Artson put it, “Korach’s flaw was to confuse equal worth with equal skills.” He proved as much when he presented his argument. He never explained why he would make a better leader than Moses or Aaron, never mentioned his qualifications for the job. He merely insulted and denigrated Moses and said nothing about his own skills and abilities.
I cannot help but draw a comparison between Korach’s tactics and those of today’s politicians. Far too many politicians spend their time and advertising dollars telling us how terrible their opponents are. We are living in a political environment that is toxic, divisive, and, in my opinion, immoral.
It’s only June. I may have to stop watching television altogether between now and November, because I feel certain that it’s only going to get worse.
To be fair, sometimes they do pause to tell us about themselves, although I am not certain how useful it is to know that the wife of a candidate says he is a loving father, a farmer and a conservative. Oh yes, and he’s going to do something about traffic congestion. His wife.*
Just because we have a president who is particularly adept at this type of campaigning, we should not forget that we have lived with the politics of hate and personality for quite some time. It has become the norm; we are as accustomed to it as we are to mass shootings, and seemingly just as incapable of solving the problem.
But perhaps we don’t have to live this way. Perhaps one voice does make a difference. My advice to each of us is this: Don’t like what you are hearing? Say something. Say it loudly, publicly, clearly.
Write a letter, make a phone call, send an email. Join your voice with other like-minded people. I do not believe that these problems are unsolvable. But they cannot be solved without us.
*In this TV ad, the candidate’s wife also says “he has a servant’s heart.” For my readers who might not be familiar with the phrase, this is code for “he’s a good Christian.” This says perhaps more about to the voters to whom he is appealing than about him as a person. But this is for another day’s discussion.