Growing up as a Seventh-Day Adventist on Seventh-Day Adventist college campuses in Australia and California, I often encountered the attitude, “Who cares about the world?” The more traditional the Adventist, the more likely he was to have this attitude.
Traditional Adventists saw themselves as God’s Chosen People, the true Israel, the remnant saints, and they saw the wider world as the enemy that wanted to persecute them, was fated to persecute them, until the Messiah arrives.
I found this attitude narrow because I cared about the world and I wanted to make a difference in the world.
I discovered Dennis Prager on the radio in 1988, when I was 22, and I fell in love with his presentation of Judaism as a step-by-step system for making this world better.
When I began my RCC conversion to Orthodox Judaism in 2001, I had a meeting with its Beit Din (Jewish law court) chaired by Rabbi Avrohom Union. When I explained to the rabbis why I grew disenchanted with Adventism, Rabbi Union said I had much of my father in me, and that many of the things I disliked about Adventism were very much present in Judaism.
He was right. The more traditional you go in Judaism, the more you get the attitude, “Who cares about the world?”
Traditional Jews see themselves as God’s Chosen People, and they see the wider world as the enemy that wanted to persecute them, is fated to persecute them, until the Messiah arrives.
Now I realize that the stronger your in-group identity, the less concern you have for out-groups, and the more likely you are to see them as the enemy.