I thought I had it all under control, but I was overconfident.
All my knowledge and experience didn't help. All that I thought was true, suddenly, wasn't.
People used to look up to me, to see me as an example. They used to respect and emulate me. They wanted to be close to me and be my friend.
I was honourable; my word was stronger than an ox. My loyalty, undoubted. My friends knew they could count on me, even though I knew I couldn't always count on them.
I was listened to by everybody. I used to do what I thought was right, no matter the consequences.
I meant every word I said, and, even though it sometimes put me in trouble, I always followed my principles without hesitation - great principles like respect for justice, equality and freedom.
I engaged in the actions that were necessary to protect me and friends from persecution and aggression. I worked diligently to bring peace and prosperity to people where I could.
Some people's jealously was crystal clear: they wanted me to fail just to spite me. Despite this, I was always graceful and courteous to my so-called friends.
Now, I am lost. I have no credibility and my friends mock me. They have lost faith in me.
Everything started when I had to make difficult decisions. To continue being strong, confident and free, I had to make choices.
It wasn't easy. I had to protect myself from tyranny before tyranny struck me, and I didn't. I let tyrants rule.
I should have fought with everything I had, but I didn't. I made mistakes on the road, I do not question it.
Even with predictions and advice from my loyal "friends" and "buddies," I could not pull myself together or defeat my enemies. Enemies are now beginning to sniff my weakness and are becoming serious threats.
I have let other people convince me that I am not good and that it is better to avoid problems than confront them. Everybody used to look to me for advice. Now, they give me advice as if I were an orphan child.
They have convinced me that all the good things I did for them in the past (lent them money, helped them to create better lives, imposing peace between warring parties) are forgotten. They treat me as if they have the higher moral standard, as if my morals and values are gone.
They think I am a fool or a caveman because I still believe in a higher power that gives us direction, gives us hope and promise for better times through hard work, strength and leadership. To their delight, my faith is diminishing. I feel myself weakening.
I used to pay my bills on time and use my savings to lend money to friends. Now, I can hardly afford bread.
I am borrowing far more than I can ever pay, and all my credit cards and loans are maxed-out. My credit rating has been badly affected. If I do not recover my confidence and start creating wealth again, I will never be able to recover. I will be squashed by my challengers.
Next time, I should choose a different path. One that delivers, instead of promise. A path that chooses what is right over convenience, faith over default, substance over rhetoric, principle over popularity, action over denial.
Ronald Reagan said in his inaugural address: "I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing."
Now, I am doing nothing right.
Please help me find my true identity again.
- the United States of America
Salomon Rayek is a Kelowna resident and former executive editor of the Jewish Tribune. Email: