The Stopengoh Effect
In my neighborhood growing up, there was a shop called Stopengoh. It wasn’t an important store, in the neighborhood or my life, but whenever I happened to think about it over the years, I always thought the same thing – oh yeah, Stopengoh. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized this store was actually called “Stop And Go”, and that the nonsensical fragments of sound the made up its name, were, in reality, three distinct words that conveyed a message.
The “stopengoh” effect I call this – when over the course of time a nonsensical unexamined idea remains in my mind, slipping below my adult radar, even though it no longer jives with what I know about the world.
Like the Edict of Expulsion, issued on this day, July 18th, 721 years ago, by King Edward I, expelling all Jews from England.
The “stopengo” effect has this piece of information filed away with my childhood filing system, under “great tragedy”, “compelling reason for upholding religious tradition”, “never trust the goyim”, “they’re always out to get us and always have been”, “a Jew is never safe, so stick with your own kind.”
It’s challenging to pull this piece of data out of the place it’s been filed and look at it with adult eyes, eyes that reflect my current values. What conclusions do I, as a secular Jew, draw from acts of historical anti-Semitism?
I don’t have any resounding answer to the question. I’m still mulling it over. I’m thinking about how I would probably contextualize the suffering of my Jewish ancestors with the suffering of my female ancestors and the suffering of other peoples throughout history – and today. Considering my Jewish history leaves me grateful to America, a country where people of all religions are generally respected and protected. I guess I still accept the conclusion that we (all humans) are never safe – but instead of using that as a motivation to cling to the past and an invisible world to come in place of the present, I use that as a motivation to celebrate what I have while I have it and make the most of the precious gift of our short, vulnerable lives.Printable Version