The Contrary Son

“The Contrary Son says: What is the meaning of this ceremony to you?”  To you and not him.  Saying to you, he excludes himself from the group, and thus denies a basic principal of our faith.  You may therefore set his teeth on edge and say to him: “This is done because of what the L-rd did for me when I came forth from Egypt.”  For me and not for him; had he been there, he would not have been redeemed.”

I was in danger of becoming the Contrary Son, the worst of the four sons described during the Passover Seder.  It was hot.  I was tired and a touch inpatient and I was asking an important question during a fundraising/membership meeting of a local non-profit.  There was nothing wrong with the question.  The topic needed to be addressed.  The issue, possibly one that only I noticed, was that I had excluded myself from the group.  I wanted to know what THEY were going to do.  How would THEY resolve the problem?  What was THEIR goal?

I tried to catch myself.  I certainly had no interest in offending anyone.  There were only a half a dozen people in the room.  Five were true believers in the cause.  I had been invited to help, to share some ideas.  I don’t know if they expected an emotional buy-in.  I suspect that they just assumed that exposure would lead to conversion.

Didn’t happen.

Please don’t get me wrong, the charity in question is worthwhile and ambitious.  Their goals are lofty and they have a reasonable chance of success.  I hope that they succeed and I’m willing to help them.

Them and not us.

My next meeting, my fourth, was a few days later.  My internal alarm was buzzing.  This time the room was packed.  The realists were debating the romanticists.  They were all well-meaning.  They were all working, to the best of their abilities, in the organization’s best interest.  The teams changed as the issues changed.  The only constant was that I wasn’t on any team.  I wasn’t committed to any of this.

I was write a check committed.  I was call me up and run some ideas by me committed.  But I was not sit in a hot, dirty, uncomfortable room for one more minute committed.  7:30 marked the hour and a half point.  I made my excuses and left.

You can’t marry every pretty girl that’s nice to you.  You can’t donate to every worthwhile cause.  Until I learn to say “No”, I will have to settle for the self awareness of knowing when I’m in the wrong meeting.