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Ira Was a Profoundly Decent Person July 19, 2008

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Tamara Thompson, Maplewood, NJ

tammi-ira Ira signed my copy of Dialectical Materialism “To Tammi, with affection and esteem — and hope!” I think part of the hope he referred to was that I would one day finish reading The Book. In defense of my very slow progress, I have reasoned that if it took Ira over thirty years to write it, it will take me a while to read, understand, and absorb it.

I have started it, and even met with him several times to discuss what I had read, but to my regret did not finish it before he died.

He would often ask about my progress in reading The Book. I’m convinced that he kept asking not just because he was the author, but because he believed in what he wrote — to his very core. For him it was not just a book or a way of thinking but a way of living. When faced with prostate cancer or a broken ankle, he frequently mentioned how applying the principles laid out in The Book helped him to overcome both conditions and to achieve so much more.

While Ira’s achievements were monumental, they weren’t the reason I rushed to the hospital to see him when I heard he wasn’t expected to live through the night. I didn’t love Ira because he had won two Supreme Court cases. I loved him because he was a profoundly decent person who cared for others and consistently showed it. It sounds trite, almost insignificant, but Ira was a man of his word. He said what he meant and meant what he said. He kept his promises.

I humbly assert that what defined Ira was absolute congruency. What Ira believed, he lived; what he said, he did (except for his promise to live to 100, which I’m trying not to hold against him). No substitutes; no shortcuts. Though not a religious person, Ira had profound faith — in people and their ability and responsibility to make the world a better place. He lived his life doing just that — making the world better, more just, more compassionate; a place of welcome and sustenance for all, not just a few.

In Ira we’ve lost not only a father, friend, and advocate; we’ve lost a national treasure. I believe that Ira’s hope was that in finishing The Book, I would live a more congruent life as well, a life that makes sense in and of this world; a life better equipped to wage true justice and to pick up the struggle where he left off. Here’s to Ira, The Book, and living a life of utter integrity!


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