“It is time for us to recite the confession of our collective guilt….”
Have you ever driven on the freeway behind a car whose exhaust fills your own car with the smell of a rotten egg? I have, but after a minute or two the smell goes away. Science teaches that the smell doesn’t dissipate. Instead, the human olfactory lobe becomes fatigued, and the brain no longer registers the smell. The nose adjusts, to keep the body from experiencing discomfort.
Rabbi Olan’s sermon of October 17, 1965, We Are All Guilty, comes to shake us out of any adjusted space as it relates to confession and prayer. He explains, the challenge of civic responsibility is “… idea of collective guilt which is part and parcel of the Prophetic faith….” Prophetic faith indicates that we are “…all of us, each one of us involved in the sins of the community. We are all guilty of the harm our society allows and does.”
The human tendency is to experience that care, and then to dismiss it because the weight of it seems impossibly heavy for an individual to bear, even in prayer. Once assailed, then overwhelmed, compassion may become fatigued.
Rabbi Olan shares how one may atone and pray, responsibly, after recognizing the evils of the day.
*Written by Lillie R. Jenkins Walker.*