Dirt Beneath Their Shoe

A lot of people, such as Steven Weil, Morey Levovitz, Daniel Gordis, Joseph Telushkin, expend a lot of energy complaining about me but they never complain to me.

They feel they have been badly hurt by my website. They feel I have been unfair and inaccurate in what I have written about them. But they never complain to me. They complain to everyone but me.

My rabbi would get so many complaints about my blog, it wore him out. If I had been in his shoes, I would’ve said to the whiners, "Don’t bother me until you’ve made a good faith effort with the object of your anger."

I always treat people politely when they politely raise a complaint with me about my coverage because it is in my self-interest to be nice and to hear all sides. I’m always glad to check my facts. It is effortless for me to make corrections on my website. It is not like I operate a newspaper. I can go back to a post and delete it or change a few sentences and it takes little effort. I’m always glad to raise the accuracy and fairness of my work. Most of the time, people don’t even want a retraction. They just want a sentence removed or a paragraph or two. That’s easy.

But the people who most resent my blog never confront me about it.

I wonder why.

It would be pragmatically in their self-interest to deal with me directly instead of complaining to those who can’t help them.

So why don’t they do that?

I think they think I am beneath them. I am dirt on their shoe. I have such low social status and they have such high social status, why should they lower themselves to talk to me? They’ll say I’m a pornographer and a wanna-be convert to Judaism and a creep and a psychopath and they will reinforce their anger by complaining about me.

If they sat down with me one-on-one, we would each walk away feeling better about the other (how could we feel worse towards other?). Everybody is under terrible burdens. Once we hear what another is suffering through, we can’t help but increase our empathy for them. I would see their side of things and I would be wiser in what I wrote on my blog. But the Robert Wexlers, Joseph Telushkins of the world are so invested in their anger — based on a feeling of massive moral and social superiority over me — they don’t want to risk losing it by confonting me and making their lives easier. They’d rather be angry and miserable but feel self-righteous than get down on my level and talk things through.

It’s very hard to look someone in the eye and hear their point of view and then go out and be needlessly mean to them. Cruelty depends on other people not being real to you.

P.S. I’m trying to figure out the following essay by Robert Wexler:

A big part of my adult life has involved trying to live up to what Dr. David Leo Lieber expected of me. Trying to emulate his wisdom, his learning, his kindness, knowing all the while that it would be impossible.

…In so many ways, I feel that I was given that double portion by David Lieber. I don’t say this as a matter of hubris but rather as a matter of my good fortune. For 30 years, I worked side by side with him. What a remarkable privilege that was. To be in his presence each day, to listen to him, to learn from him, to love him.

…I cannot imagine anyone who was more profoundly spiritual than David Lieber. His spirituality did not have any of the external manifestations that are more common today. Rather, it was apparent in his quiet acceptance of God’s plan for him and for the world.

…To know David Lieber was to know kindness. To know David Lieber was to know wisdom. To know David Lieber was to experience a quiet, steadfast faith in God and in the divine potential of all human beings.

And so we loved him. We loved him for who he was. And we loved him for seeing the good in us.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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