Just before my JUNE 4th teaching for Michael Rothbaum's ordination celebration, this powerpoint slide
was given to everyone in attendance.
Filmmaking is about juxtaposing images to reach a catharsis. Playwriting is about juxtaposing words to reach
a catharsis. Watching Michael become ordained inspired me to attempt to do both for you good people here
This is a plea for compassion.
Shortly after 9/11 I found myself seated beside a 70 year old Jewish Man on one of the few trains being
allowed out of Manhattan. After hearing my cell phone call to a friend about a rather painful moment of
racially motivated police brutality, this 70 year old Jewish Man leaned towards me with something thick,
raspy, and equally painful in his throat. He sighed and he asked:
â€œWhat is it about the Jews and the Blacks? Why does the world hate the Jews and the Blacks?â€�
I told him I didnâ€™t know.
He didnâ€™t much care for my response and he huffed:
â€œYouâ€™re young, figure it out for me.â€�
And we rode the train in silence.
I never got his name.
I have also never been able to understand how you are supposed to use a compass. It is supposed to tell you
which way to go. But I find myself skeptical of the notion that a compass knows which way to go even
when me with my fancy degrees from Stanford and Columbia struggle with determining which direction to
The word compassion has the word compass in it.
Obviously this 70-year-old Jewish man on the train felt enough compassion for my phone conversation to
warrant asking me â€œWhy does the world hate the Jews and the Blacks?â€�
So it follows that compassion should in some way tell each of us which direction to go.
In order to have compassion for someone you must be willing to see a bit of yourself in them. I've been
reading Elie Wiesel's Holocaust memoir, NIGHT. In the preface he writes:
"There are those who tell me that I survived in order to write this text. I am not convinced. I don't know how
I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself."
I survived a brain aneurysm when I was 19 so I can see a bit of myself in Elie Wiesel. I have actually
survived quite a lot in this life. I survived getting mugged on 127th & Lenox. These 2 guys beat me so badly
I had to have my jaw popped back into place with a mallet at a pay what you can clinic. As far as emotional
support goes, Michael was there.