Rabbi Mark, Freddie Roach and Tom Arnolf at the Beit T'Shuvah Knock Out Addiction Fundraiser
Tremors, muscle rigidity, insomnia, and even dementia. These are all a few of the many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which is a disorder of the motor system that only gets worse over time. Freddie Roach, a very famous boxer and honoree of Beit T’Shuvah’s first annual Knock Out Addiction boxing match, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1992—depressing news, yes, but did the best he could with the skills he possesses and became a coach. A few weeks ago, Antonio Margarito, who’s boxing one of Roach’s fighters, Manny Pacquiao, made fun of Roache’s disease on camera. He extended his arms and pretended to have a tremor, clearly showing his contempt for the man.
I find this sort of behavior completely despicable. To me, there is nothing that is worse in the world than seeing somebody else make fun of somebody else’s genetic dispositions. I went to a high school that had a magnet program for kids with all different types of mental disorders and heavy learning disabilities, and I was fortunate enough to gain a lot of tolerance towards others who are physically and emotionally different from myself. The unfortunate part is that most of the world is not as lucky. Attitudes like these are what enables so much hate and prejudice in the world. When I asked our own Rabbi Mark Borovitz what he felt about Margarito’s video, he replied that it is completely evil to take public advantage of another’s vulnerabilities. Not only that, but attitudes like these can add a lot of negativity to our already volatile world. Is a man with Parkinson’s really so different from the rest of us? Not only is this a below the belt blow from Margarito, but what is he really saying? Perhaps he is projecting his own feelings—his fear of insecurities or of failures. And it turned out that Margarito’s spiritual bank account was below zero; Pacquiao won the fight.
“Hi, wanna cyber? Asl? Pix send2recieve.” In the digital age of the 21st century, this dialogue is no longer uncommon. People are connecting to millions of others within milliseconds to share pictures, videos, songs, and ideas. The average Internet user has no face, no skin color, and no gender. In fact, the root of most discrimination depends on the amount of cyber experience one has—the newbies and the pros. Unfortunately, not everybody is able to hide under their protective cloak of anonymity—this was the case of Tyler Clementi, a young college student from New Jersey who committed suicide after his sexual exploits were recorded by his roommate’s webcam and then blasted on the web.
MTV recently released a new campaign called “Draw Your Line,” which is implemented to help people learn their cyber boundaries. When I first began my rehabilitation, I had the startling realization that I had barely any real life boundaries. I wasn’t sure what was socially okay to talk about and with which people, I wasn’t sure which girls to hit on, and I especially didn’t understand how to handle my own reactions. This website will help users—anonymously or otherwise—troubleshoot these problems on a situational basis. Members can post an action that they find troubling and others can comment and suggest the best course of reaction they can take. For example, in California, Anonymous just reported almost a dozen Craigslist predators.
I’m a big fan of this model of teaching. Much like the Socratic method it is very interactive, which means that the truth will always be changing depending on who is involved. It is up to the individual to figure out what is correct, but they have a whole database of solutions to choose from and an online community to ask for advice. The DARE program didn’t work very well—police officers came into elementary schools and told kids not to do drugs. In this case, instead of lecturing kids about what to do and what not to do, they are able to figure it out for themselves. The Internet is quite the anomaly. There is so much information that can be accessed at any time, but once one delves a little deeper it can be a cruel, dark place. In 2003 a man named Brandon Vedas (under the pseudonym ripper) overdosed on a webcam while communicating over Internet Relay Chat to a group of people all around the world. Maybe if some of the people in the chat room watching his webcam had access to Draw Your Line, he would still be alive right now.
By M. Alexander
Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and of The Blessing of a B Minus, came to Beit T’Shuvah on Saturday, October 30. She spoke to residents and guests about the epidemic that has spread throughout our country, the curse of terminal uniqueness.
Parents’ lives revolve around their children. They go to their child’s school, attempting to get them the perfect teacher. When this teacher turns out to be incompetent or not “the best fit”, mommy or daddy returns to the school and tries to switch the child back to the original teacher. These helicopter parents do not let their children make their own mistakes; instead, they try to make their little angel’s life “perfect”.
The child can become “anything they want” when they grow up. Mommy tells little blind Mikey that he can be an air force pilot and cute Matty with one gimp leg that he can play for The Lakers. Daddy tells tone-deaf Johnny, who wants to be in The New York Philharmonic, “perfect pitch is relative”. Soon Michael, Matthew, and Jonathon begin to believe that the world revolves around them.
When I realized that I probably could not be the leader of the free world or the number one golfer in the PGA, I became completely disillusioned. How could I possibly mop the floor at Burger King? I have no ability to put in hard work, to complete tasks, to do “menial, mindless” work. I was a cocky man-child with extraordinarily low self-esteem. I was the greatest piece of shit that the world revolved around. I was only able to see in black and white. Either I was the center of the world or I was meaningless. I could not do anything for myself because it was always done for me.
Dr. Mogel quoted The Talmud “It is the obligation of every father to teach his son how to swim”. My father cannot always swim for me; he cannot just buy me a boat. Eventually I have to go through life on my own. I have to swim away from him and teach my son how to swim after my father is gone.
- The Blessings of a B-Minus (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)