Dare to Be Different
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

December 29, 2015, Israel

The Painted Bird, the price for being different.

Life pushes us towards conformity. Most immigrant children soon look and sound just like their local pears. People want to fit in. Those who are different are marked. In his classic work "The Painted Bird" Jerzy Kosinski describes how children caught a bird, painted it and then released it to the wild. The bird quickly rejoined its flock, birds of a feather flock together. But the other birds did not accept the returned member. He was now different. They poked him to death. (see drawing above) The young boy learned a valuable lesson.

Kosiński was a Polish Jew, born Józef Lewinkopf in Łódź, Poland. His father gave him a false name to help survive the Holocaust. With the assistance of righteous Polish villagers and a priest he survived the war and emigrated to America. He had learned what it is like to be different. To survive one had to fit in.

People who are different stand out and sometimes pay for it dearly. The harsh payment can be in losing ones job, or losing one's friends, or in extreme cases losing one's life. Standing up and saying "The king has no clothes" while everyone else is shouting "The king has new clothes" can lead to severe social ostracism or worse.

But change occurs when someone dares to be different. And sometimes when one person stands up for the truth, others follow. There are others who are waiting for a leader, waiting for someone to take the initiative, the first steps. And then others stand up and say, "I was thinking that too!! Lets do something about it."

We need someone who dares to be different. We need people to stand up and speak, no matter the potential consequences. Truth needs only an army of one.

Many people offer "what the people want to hear"; it is safe, they are breaking no new ground. They want to offer a proven product, a proven winner. If a new employee suggests something radically different the CEO might say, Stop, we do not want to rock the boat, "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

But another company will launch a new product, something different, something innovative, and ....the world changes.

Believe it or not there were those who thought the automobile (cars) would never replace the horse and buggy. There were those who thought a tape recording device was fun but had no practical use. There were those who thought the world market for computers would peak at five!

There were those who thought the idea of a telephone in one's home would never catch on, and many record companies turned down the Beatles, many publishing companies turned down the Harry Potter novels.

But someone dared to be different. Someone said the Beatles have a new sound which I believe will catch on, and the music world was changed forever.

If no one dared to be different we would still be living as we did in Dark Ages. We would be using the same "technologies", have the same life expectancy and hold the same outrageous beliefs. 

We are approaching "New Years' Day" celebrated the world over and even in Israel under the name Sylvester Day. I dared to expose the truth. As much as I know that it has become a fun, mostly secular and universal holiday I felt the need to say the truth. I believed that I would encounter some resistance, some anger, but the truth needs only an army of one.

So I wrote a little bit about the history of this day as it pertains to the Jewish people. For us it is a sad time filled with terrible memories of hatred, persecution and murder. The day is named for Sylvester, an antisemite who convinced the Roman emperor to decree that no Jew should live in Jerusalem. Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation and this day, New Year's day, became a day of hatred and violence towards the Jews for many centuries to come.

I published this fully expecting a backlash. After all no one enjoys hearing the ugly side of their history, and Jews certainly do not want to hear that they should not celebrate New Years'. Amazingly enough it was received very positively. Many shared this posting and many thanked me for it.

Dare to be different, dare to join the army of truth, even if you are an army of one, and the world will be a better place for it.

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