True spirit of community and multiculturalism
THE Chinese philosopher, Confucius, is credited as saying: "May you live in interesting times." There can be little doubt that, as the Jewish Community celebrates its New Year, times are certainly 'interesting'.
The summer has seen a period of total contrast. On the one hand, the UK's 'posimeter' reached record levels as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations were quickly followed by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
While I was an interested TV spectator for the former, I was a heavily involved participant in the latter. There is not enough space here to describe the experience of working as part of the Press Operations Team for the world's largest festival of elite sport. Suffice it to say that, for me, along with tens of thousands of employees and volunteers, it was a life-affirming experience and demonstrated the true spirit of community and multiculturalism.
Yet, as the Olympic world emerges from its 'bubble' after gorging itself on a feast of positive human endeavour, the rest of society still faces its 'interesting times'.
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Europe's economy remains in free-fall and the US election battle continues to bring out the worst in the so called 'leaders of the free world'.
Social media made a revolting piece of amateur insanity – a film trailer called The Innocence of Muslims – the catalyst for violence across the Middle East; while here in the UK, gang wars have claimed the lives of two police officers.
But people-power and strength of community can still bring positives from negatives.
The report on the Hillsborough football tragedy finally vindicated the determination of the families of the fans that died by uncovering what really happened 23 years ago. Now, perhaps, justice will be done.
So why does any of this matter to us in Bristol?
I suppose it's simply an illustration that our daily lives are a constant balancing act.
Whether you call it the battle between good and evil, the balance of ying and yang, nurture versus nature, hope over adversity; in essence, life is about attitude.
As Bristol's Jewish community focuses on the year to come and, during the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on Wednesday, considers its transgressions of the past 12 months, we are presented with our best chance of establishing a positive attitude.
While I'm not naïve enough to think that any community can sustain the huge level of up-beat energy I witnessed at the Olympics, we were shown that even the, so-called, 'miserable Brits' can transform the psyche of the nation and even the world if we put our minds to it.
And so I wish everyone a positively Shanah Tovah: Happy (and 'interesting') New Year.
Peter Brill is a member of the Bristol Progressive Jewish Community and former chairman of Salaam Shalom.