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Pursuit of Happiness

I've been listening to Kid Cudi's Pursuit of Happiness on repeat for quite some time. Actually, its been one of my favorite songs to blast in the car on a sunny day and I always listen to it while working out. Initially, I connected to the upbeat rhythm and the journey toward happiness that we are all on. Recently, however, the lyrics began sounding more grim to me.

I was first introduced to this song by my teenage son, I tend to gravitate towards his playlists. Playing this track made me feel closer to him as I imagine the magnitude of Cudi's words in a seventeen-year-old's mind:

Living my life, getting our dreams

People told me to slow my roll

I'm screaming out, fuck that

I always felt a sense of empowerment, singing "fuck that" as I drove with the wind in my hair, volume extra high, pumped to continue living my life and never slowing my roll no matter what others think of me. I, too, am in the pursuit of happiness, and listening to this song for the first few dozen times reassured me I would get there soon if I continued to live my life, my way.

The other day, it occurred to me that this song is really sad, despite its catchy beats.

Everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold, hey

Really, little is what it seems to be on the surface. Cudi wrongly assumes that a glamorous life ridden with excessive alcohol and drug usage would find him happiness, but he later admits in the song that he is wrong. Similarly, many of us tend to gravitate towards anything sparkly -often times our pursuit of happiness turns to materialism to fill a void.

I don't expect happiness from things. Wearing designer clothes doesn't make me happier, it just makes me feel prettier. However, I do tend to get lured by shiny people - specifically those who dangle expressions of love toward me; I guess it's the Leo in me who falls for this trap. Or maybe I tend to project because when I tell someone I love them, I actually really do love them so the assumption is that others are as genuine as I am. I dare tweak Cudi's lyrics to:

Everyone that shines ain't always gonna be gold, hey.

There are roughly 15 million Jews in the world and 1.8 billion Muslims. According to Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian Lebanese woman whose life was turned upside down by Islamic radicals, 20% of the Muslim population is radicalized. That's a load of militant Muslims filled with vile hatred towards Jews or anyone who stands with Israel. Jews need the voices of our gentile friends, who claim to love us, to help us come close to matching the hundreds of millions of voices that are protesting for the eradication of our land and our people. "I love you". Do you? If I am surrounded by so much love, why do I feel so alone? I have a handful of extremely supportive non-Jewish friends but as a person who takes pride in having many "friends" and knowing many people, a handful versus the many I know is equivalent to the vast difference in population of Jews versus Muslims on this planet. I feel extremely alone despite there being 2.4 billion Christians in the world whom the Bible teaches to relentlessly protect Israel. The majority of the non-Jews I know have sent a kind text or two. They mean well but they don't truly understand what it is like to watch rallies calling for the destruction of your people in response to the most brutal massacres against Jews since the Holocaust, they don't understand the decisions we have had to make as parents as our children apply to colleges where almost none feel safe for Jewish students right now, they don't grasp the excruciating pain that comes with their silence while Jews fear each and every day that we are on the verge of a second Holocaust. So, instead, with the best intentions, they tell you they love you and shine their pearly whites in an attempted smile to console you.

Everyone that shines ain't always gonna be gold, hey.

USC professor John Strauss has been banned from campus after saying "Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Everyone should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.” Is there something wrong with wanting terrorists dead? Apparently, when you are Jewish, you can't wish death upon terrorists or you will have the Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist/antisemetic body have you fired. Where are our non-Jewish friends helping Professor Strauss get his job back? There are just too few Jews compared to the quickly growing Nazis of 2023 to fight these injustices on their own.

Tell me what you know about dreamin' dreamin'

You don't really know about nothin', nothin'

Tell me what you know about them night terrors every night

Five AM cold sweats, waking up to the sky

Cudi suffers from night sweats as his excessive alcohol and drug consumption leave his body. I can relate to the nightmares and 5:00 am night sweats, as I dream about a ten-month-old baby being held hostage by Hamas terrorists and a four-year-old little girl held captive for fifty days after witnessing both her parents being murdered. I too cannot sleep these days. My dreams are also shattered.

Jewish owned businesses in the United States and Europe are being vandalized on a regular basis, the President of AIPAC's home was visited by protestors who used smoke bombs on his property, a teacher in New York City was almost attacked by a mob of teens who found a post on social media of her attending a pro-Israel rally, a Jewish man was killed by a violent Pro-Palestinian protestor in Los Angeles, thousands of protestors in Australia screamed "gas the Jews", Armenia's only synagogue was burnt down, an Austrian synagogue was vandalized, Jewish college students have been threatened on almost every campus ... All this in less than two months (and there are plenty of other incidents that I do not include here). I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know

Everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold, hey

I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good

Like Cudi , I too am in denial believing that if Jews get more support my sadness will dissipate when I well know the kind of support Jews need isn't coming. Cudi and I are both in search for that "thing" that will make our problems go away. While he sings about being self-destructive and feeling empty, turning to drugs and alcohol to fill his void, I too feel empty and am desperately searching for that "thing" to make me feel whole again. There has been a nagging sense of emptiness since the massacres of October 7th that I can't shake off.

We don't need "I love you's". What Jews need from their non-Jewish friends is to rally with us, to write their congressmen and senators voicing support for Israel, signing the hundreds of relevant petitions that are going around, calling universities and condemning them for failing their Jewish students. This is what we need: action, not words. We cannot win this battle without others jumping in the fight with us, our population is just tiny compared to our enemy's; if you look at the numbers you'll quickly understand this is an impossible battle to win without strong allies.

Sadly, I know that as I sign petitions, my name becomes public and I become a Jewish target. I know that being affiliated with many pro-Israel organizations make me a target too. I also know that when I write colleges that my son has applied to and rebuke them for failing Jewish students that I risk his chances of acceptances.

Looking ahead no turning back

If I fall, if I die

Know I loved it to the fullest

If I fall, if I die

Know I lived and missed some bullets

Once upon a time I listened to Pursuit of Happiness and felt overtaken with joy and hope. Nowadays I find myself sobbing as I sing along.

I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good


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