Human Kindness is Overflowing...

I agree completely with the decision made by the two Jewish communities, Lev Tahor and Toiras Jesed, to leave San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala. Despite the protestations and interventions of the Procurador de los Derechos Humanos and the support of some other individuals who have decried the expulsion, these communities have made the wisest decision to put the safety of their families and children above all else, even though it is their right to remain and they would have had the law on their side if they had chosen to do so.

Some have been calling the conflict "a clash between civilisations". In this clash however, these Jews were at a serious disadvantage. They are people of peace and they do not preserve their religion, culture, families or homes by threatening others with violence or engaging in violence. They preserve it by separation and mass exodus and so far some of the adult members have left behind Israel, the USA, Canada [two provinces] and now San Juan La Laguna. Over the past two years especially, the upheaval to which they have been subjected has been especially intense. They may exist, but I am not aware of another example of yeridah t'tzorich aliyah being experienced currently by an entire Jewish community that has over a relatively short period of time been as emotionally, physically and financially punishing. Yet, the optimist in me is determined to focus on the ascent.

As for those residents of San Juan La Laguna who were responsible for the eventual exodus, they alone know the whole truth about what they hoped to achieve by their actions. I do not know enough about their community or culture to be able to comment further than I already have. Until I have better information, I will make the generous assumption that perhaps they also just wanted to be left alone.

Sometimes the thing or event that appears to be misfortune is the impetus to push us in the direction of fortune. It depends on the perspective you cultivate. One group of Christians will swear that Judas was a traitor who delivered the Christ to his executioners. Another will tell you that Judas was simply destiny's tool, that the Christ was destined to be sacrificed and He had to be betrayed by someone so that God's plan would be fulfilled. The ascent of something often hinges upon the descent of something else.

Misael Santos, standing in the ruins of the life he thought that he would be continuing to build in San Juan La Laguna, still would not condemn the entire population. He was gracious enough to acknowledge that they would be leaving behind friends that they made during their six years of residence in the town. Uriel Goldman, spokesman for Lev Tahor, has also remarked with gratitude on more than one occasion that there were villagers who had been kind to them. I do not doubt this. Thanks to the work of photographer, Jorge Dan Lopez, we have some pictorial evidence.

A woman from the Lev Tahor community bids farewell to villagers
while preparing to leave San Juan La Laguna. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

A man from a Jewish community (R) receives help from a villager
while carrying a mattress as he and fellow members 
prepare to leave the village of San Juan La Laguna.  (Jorge Dan Lopez/ Reuters)

A villager offers oranges to children of a Jewish community 
on a street in the village of San Juan La Laguna. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

Without any hesitation, I can only conclude that human kindness is overflowing. Sometimes the gratitude of the recipient is the ingredient that stimulates the flow of the kindness. As the eye of the beholder calls beauty into being, human kindness and Divine mercy will find their way to those who have not lost the ability to recognise these gifts and be grateful.

I am thinking that Misael Santos and Uriel Goldman have fully understood that if we are to survive, we cannot let any benediction pass unacknowledged. In the midst of turmoil and suffering, they are the beacons that will steer us away from soul darkening cynicism and despair. God is also to be found in the ugliest of details.

33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.
34 The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt:
I am the Lord your God.

33 “Cuando un extranjero resida con vosotros en vuestra tierra, no lo maltrataréis.
34 “El extranjero que resida con vosotros os será como uno nacido entre vosotros, y lo amarás como a ti mismo, porque extranjeros fuisteis vosotros en la tierra de Egipto;
yo soy el Señor vuestro Dios."

--Leviticus 19:33-34 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)