Monday, April 12, 2010

Asher Lev's Rejection of Traditional Answers

My husband and I went to see the play, "Asher Lev", based on a book that freshmen had to read for a mandantory course. It is about the life of a Hasidic Jew, who is a gifted artist and his coming to "crossroads" about where his ultimate commitment will be.

Art is a "tradition" itself, Asher is told by another artist, who becomes his mentor. Art has certain values, that conflicted with Asher's religious tradition. Art is studying the form of the body, the nude, which is forbidden under religious laws. And art is valued by those that usually don't value his religious tradition.

Asher chooses to "find himself" rather than submit to his religious tradition. This is where he has to "let go" of his former life, as he understood it. He comes into an understanding of himself as an artist and not just as a Jewish man.

I find most conservative religious traditions prescribe these types of limitations. Limitations about what one should or shouldn't do, and what one should or shouldn't believe. Such nonsense, when the supernatural is not understood in real world terms, but only in the speculations of religious visionaries that tend to be authoritarian because of such understandings.

America is the "land of the free" because it understands itself as the home of the brave. Americans were the pioneers in a new world and with a new world order. We understood the value of equality under law, liberty as a value, and made a commitment that we would universalize these values as human rights.

Human rights is not just a universal, but is understood to be for the individual. We are diverse, becasue we believe in individual liberties, and the right to pursue one's own ends in volutary association of contractual relationships. Humans can flourish and find themselves in such a system of government. And Americans believe, for the most part, that this is a universal right, the right of a representative government.

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