Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Funday: The Meaning Of Hanukkah

It's been a long week, beginning as it did with the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide tragedy and ending with the brutal layoffs by the Bain Capitol-owned Clear Channel, and the attack by Michigan's underhanded, right-wing Governor to gut the rights of workers in his state.

It is Friday though, and this weekend, the beginning of yet another holiday - Hanukkah. It's been a few years since we'd discussed Hanukkah in these digital pages with anything more than a brief mention, so we were surprised when we brought our Hanukkah research back up, and compared it with some major news events going on here at home.

The brief version of the Hanukkah story is simple. Around 170 BC, the Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had recently inherited his throne, got frustrated with his Jewish subjects in the state of Judea. Spurred by other wealthy men in his kingdom (who had their own debts and political agendas), the Syrian King's army invaded Jerusalem, defeated the Jews, took their treasure, outlawed Judaism - and defiled the primary temple for worship.

The Jewish rebels survived however. Five years later they defeated the Syrian invaders and took back their homes and their place of worship. To celebrate, they planned a hanukkah - a dedication, in Hebrew. For eight days and nights, their temple menorah was supposed to burn as part of the cleansing and celebration - yet they had only enough oil for the lamp to stay lit for one night. Somehow, the temple menorah stayed lit all eight days and nights.

For people of the Jewish faith, it's a key piece of belief in this holiday that the lamp stayed lit because God wanted it to - in part to prove that their God sided with them, the rebels who had won the war.

Today in America, there are still 'wars' going on - including the war on workers.

Clear Channel, like many other media companies, got greedy over the last 15 years - something that got worse when they sold out to the corporation that is the primary modern symbol for greed and evil, Bain Capitol. Like the Syrians in the story of Hanukkah, those now in control of thousands of local radio stations will never be wise enough to understand what those stations mean to their local listeners. For those we know in the media who suffered at the hands of the latest blast of job losses from Clear Channel, as well as job losses from other media companies, our hearts go out to you.

On another battlefield, Michigan's Governor Snyder and his greedy Republican henchmen in the Michigan statehouse crammed through last-minute anti-worker legislation Thursday night. That's due to the fact that Michigan's Republicans will be losing a substantial number of seats when the Michigan legislature changes over in January.

There is a light for both of these stories though, reminiscent of the hanukkah menorah that awaited the ancient Jews, after their long exile, and susequent defeat of their enemies.

For media companies, it's inevitable that the corporate executives and Wall Street criminals who've created this mess will go to jail. Billions in fines are being levied almost daily, and a growing stream of corrupt executives look to be headed to jail.

The massive media companies like Clear Channel will likely end up selling their many of their local holdings to small groups of investors that include local media talent - rebellious, honest, hard-working people who know what their local radio and TV stations and newspapers mean to their neighbors and friends.

As for Gov. Synder and his GOP colleagues, their rush to push through this anti-worker legislation has likely left them legally vulnerable. It's highly likely Snyder's effort, like Scott Walker's in Wisconsin, will end up snuffed out in court.

For us, the key to understanding the Hanukkah story has always been simple. Do the right thing, fight for what's right, and if you believe, no matter how meager your resources, in the end, you'll have enough.

We hope you and your family have more than enough this holiday season.

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