advice from dad



So, my Dad is a 73-year-old Mexican man who has lived here since he was 16. He was in Watts during the riots in 1965; in 1992, when I was in LA, as soon as the Rodney King verdict was announced, he called me, told me what was coming, told me how to stay safe. He has survived horrible living conditions, being kidnapped, physical abuse, prejudice, discrimination. He learned English, got his green card, pays his taxes, works hard, and has three daughters. 

I thought he would be devastated today.

But he wasn’t.

He saw that I was sad and angry, and he asked me why, pretending he had no idea. I almost started crying. And then he said, “no se me chicopale.” 

It means, don’t lose heart. Don’t give in to despair.

I asked him why he wasn’t upset.

He said, basically, “The world has always been this way. There are always people who are afraid, who are racist, who are awful. This is not new. And it will never go away. He won. We can’t do anything about that. All we can do is what we can do. Fight for what matters to us. Take care of each other. And don’t lose heart. And here, I got these unsalted cashews for you and a bag of jamaica drink mix and can you show me how to use the new washing machine because it’s not working.”

And, for reasons I can’t articulate, I feel a little better. 

As a Jew who just spent two hours talking to a rabbi for the first time in thirty years, please give your dad a hug from me.

Tikun olam, the rabbi reminded me. Literally, it means world repair. It means we live in an imperfect world, and instead of looking to the Heaven of the next world, it’s our duty to be a light in THIS world – to protect those people who need our protection, to work for social justice, and to improve the world as a whole.

The world needs our light.

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