Turn off your screens and be kind

...ok... a few people asked me to post this, so, herewith... the speech i made to the shorts at their bar/bat mitzvah.

I am not going to talk today about how fantastic you are, you got a standing ovation the day you were born so you know all that, instead i'm going to take advantage of the fact that right now you are compelled to listen to me, so, listen

tread through life with care
tread through life with compassion
remember grandpa Taki's story about the sticks, as individuals you're strong, together you're invincible. 
you should turn off your screens.

turn off your screens and wander, read, think, dream.
Stop, stop and notice the small miracles.

it's ok to cry, 
i cried a river waiting for you.

live the truth,
tell the truth
be bold, be brave, be good.
be yourselves. Just,
turn off your screens

turn off your screens and fall in love,
fall out of love
question authority
take cognizance of your father's wisdom

life will give and life will take away,
but you are born of warriors,
we survive,
we find beauty in life's desperation and we find stories it's sadness.
and sometimes, just sometimes, to make our mama happy, we turn off our verkakte screens.

turn off your screens and take a journey,
tidy your rooms
work harder than anyone you know,
surround yourself with people who are better than you,
people you can bring home for friday night dinner.
people whose kindness, brilliance and humor inspires you.

surround yourself with people who share your values,
remember your values,
the screens mind you, you can forget about them.

keep the faith
faith in your family,
your people, your history and your abilities.
faith in your instagram account, that one not so much.
inevitably it's going to let you down.

give tsedaka,
appreciate your family
appreciate your friends who become family
share, and also,
turn off your fuuuucking phones.

turn off your phones and talk,
talk to the people you love,
to strangers, 
to trees
talk to one another

be grateful, 
be grateful for one another
be grateful for the good, 
in time you will be grateful for the bad.
tip extravagantly, 
also, tip with discretion.

also, about the swearing, i'm 49 years old, 
i've earned the right to swear like a sailor in the port of amsterdam,
you, not so much.

you will fall down, but so too
you will stand up again. 
you will make mistakes
but learn from them, 
always walk away the wiser.

take the cacophony and the chaos that life plays to you and you create a symphony.
remember, words will save your life, 
and also, you should always listen to mind.

you should turn off your screens and thank me, 
thank me for marrying your father,
the finest man you will ever know.
read and learn.

live fierce
love violently
defend the desolate
and don't be dazzled by the privileged
say please and thank you
be nice, be nice to all people.

never close your minds
never close your hearts
the laptop, however, close the laptop.

feel deep and feel big
smile at strangers,
stop and listen to the whispered wisdom of your hearts, but also,
always listen to your mother.

enquire, change and conquer,
stick it out
and remember, we came into this world to see, not what we can take but what we can leave behind.

serve, serve in a bar, in a restaurant, in a hospital.
when you are at the peak of your life's achievements, 
stop, and serve.

find God, find God in nature, 
in prayer,
in sorrow and joy
find God in one another
in both stupid and important things
although, i'm guessing that God doesn't exist in your screens, 
so turn them off.

listen more than you speak
watch more than you show
fear is important, it's an important thing to conquer,
conquer that slab of metal in your pocket.

live your lives in loud, gauche, gregarious color
be kind, be authentic
don't ever be fake, but also
don't buy fakes. 
and if it doesn't exist, you create it.

seek out justice and when you encounter injustice, fight it
fight for what you believe in
fight for the people you love
fight for the people who have no voice
but don't fight with one another.

we honour the words of the bible that every one of us is created in God's image,
that's all of us,
you call out racism
call out misogyny
call out ignorance and bigotry. 
we do not endure cruelty
also, we do not have to endure screens, so,
turn them off.

be grateful for the blessing of each new day
be grateful for one another, 
for your privilege,
for all of this.

don't take your lives for granted,
don't take anything for granted,
except the screens mind you,
those you can take for granted,
also, you can put them down.

i'll tell you a thing, the only person in the bible named by God was Izaak. 
which means to laugh.
you have a religious obligation to laugh,
also, you have a financial obligation to make me laugh.

remember, sometimes they'll tell you that the numbers in bank accounts and on grades are important. 
they'll try to tell you that the numbers of followers you have on instagram are important. 
that the size of your butt is important.
Life will tell you that it's important to own shit and be a certain way, 
but me, i'm your mother and i'm telling you
the only thing that's really important is that you are kind.
we expect you to be kind.
turn off your screens
and be kind.

Rahla Xenopoulos (March 2018)