an eye for an eye

D2726_10

A new generation has taken over the world, and there are folks still around who don’t know it. Can you imagine that after the French or Russian revolutions… people just living their lives and not being aware of how history had recorded changes that would affect people everywhere in the world? But it happened then too. The world changed radically, as it changed during the Industrial Revolution, and there were a lot of folks who didn’t notice.

D2725_26

To those of you who feel heartbroken about Trump winning the US presidency; who are hoping with all your hearts that he will be impeached, I say to you, dry your tears, and go about your lives… try to find happiness. Because it doesn’t matter that Trump won. And in the long run, it won’t matter much. It was just a side issue. It wasn’t really that important.

D2725_67

Looking back, the French Revolution established a new set of values for our world. There was some instability after the revolution, a lot of cruelty, unnecessary deaths and impositions on innocent people, but that’s life. There’s no denying that the human being is a cruel animal. This latest revolution, which I refer to as the Digital Revolution, is much more than the start of a new technological era. It encompasses all the activities and the beliefs of man, and by the time it’ll be accepted by the vast majority, the past will be almost completely forgotten. Of course, there’ll be a few historians who’ll remind those interested of what happened before the new age of enlightenment. But for most, all that was before this millennium will be included in the ‘dark ages’.

D2725_63

I don’t know how it was for those of my readers who live in countries around the world, but I can tell you I was amazed that on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution there was no mention of it in the media, here in Israel. Such an earthshaking event. Forgotten. There were some really fine Israelis too, who though they were living fully active lives at the time, and bringing about the rebirth of Israel as a politically independent state, gave up everything and ran to ‘help the revolution’. Most of them died in the gulag, or were killed by Stalin, and never heard from again.

D2728_07

Back in the days when I was a child, people were still arguing whether the ends justified the means. And if you’re young, you may be surprised to learn that there were some very intelligent and good hearted people who insisted that the ends did justify the means. Their thinking went something like this, “I really hate having to kill Millie the turkey. But Thanksgiving is getting close, and folks have to eat”. While watching Stalin fight Hitler, many enlightened minds were willing to forgive his excesses. But after World War II, most if not all of those same people came to the conclusion that the end doesn’t justify the means, and drummed that particular truth into the next generation.

D2726_15

I don’t think they’re going to put an end to gambling this time… or an end to eating meat. But they will put an end to smoking tobacco, and will allow smoking cannabis. They’ll legitimize homosexuality, create an environment more friendly to women, and there’ll be a completely different attitude towards family. If we were worried once about the population explosion, it now looks as if that will no longer threaten us. And were it not for hatred and war, we could very likely insure that there’d be no hunger in the world. There is speculation that soon hard work won’t threaten us. And since the less we work, the less we want to work, we’ll have more time to dream… and to dream up collective worries. For instance, that life is so empty… that there’s no meaning to existence…

D2725_69

I remember asking my father when I was a child… what is this business of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Why do we still learn such savagery? He answered me, No, that’s not savagery. That’s justice. If we were to trust to the magnanimity of the human heart, there’d be at least two eyes to pay for the one… and more likely, ten.

Advertisements

78 responses to “an eye for an eye

  1. Thanks for this. Like so many, I was devastated at Trump’s victory. The good thing is the wake up call. I am much more politically active now. I feel more responsible.

    • Hi Ibeth. Not living in the US, and not knowing very much about the contemporary culture there, I had no idea of just who Trump was until he got elected. But the Obama years had been pretty bad for both America and Israel on the international stage. Having watched your president closely for the last two years, I have a better understanding of why some Americans find him so hard to take, but the reaction to him seems to be hysterical. After all, he’s just an elected official; not your husband. I think it’s a little early to judge him. We have to see what he does for America. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thank you for this, Shimon. I love the photos so much, especially the fruit and the three “sitters” conversing on the bench. Lovely.

    • Thanks. The fruit was from home, and those pears were very tasty. And the sitters are friends of mine. And the places too, are close to home. It’s good to be able to share pieces of my day to day life. And my best to you Kitty.

  3. Thank you, though I won’t hold my breath waiting for neverTrumpers to dry their eyes. I noticed though, those opposed to obama threw fewer tantrums. I am an Independent, for whatever that’s worth and am of the same school that all of this is a blip on the cosmic radar. As am I.

    • Yes, I see myself much the same, a blip in cosmic time. But having lived a full life already, and seen more than my share of war, terror, and cruelty, I have some reservations about plans to save the world. It seemed as if Obama had hardly done anything but get elected and was given the Nobel prize, whereas Trump just got in and people were already talking about impeachment. I do have a political orientation in my own country, but when it comes to America, I would say that I’m pretty independent too; an outsider looking in. Thanks for your comment ekurie.

  4. I have come to the conclusion that if it does not become a problem for my immediate family, why should I worry about it.
    Things happen, they always have, it’s sad when there is a catastrophic event somewhere in the world, but I can do nothing about it, so why let it worry me.
    I do get cross & angry about history being rewritten to accommodate some political agenda though (Eric Arthur Blair just got the date wrong with 1984) unfortunately here in UK, so much of his book is becoming reality.
    I am sure you find the same with regard to your own country Shimon, history gets conveniently forgotten.
    I think I will just go back to my books & a good Malt, as for the American President, I think he is like our Oliver Cromwell when he cleaned out Parliament.
    “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

    • I have to admit that I don’t know much about Oliver Cromwell. But the quote sounds good. The problem with the American president is that he represents some of the most shallow forms of that country’s culture, beauty contests and reality TV. But what I was trying to say was that the changes in western society reflect a radical departure from traditional values, and it seems as if that will be more powerful than the influence of one president. I am not optimistic about some of these changes. They remind me of the decline of past empires. I agree with you completely about the rewriting of history, and find it ever harder to listen to the media. I feel like I’m bombarded by propaganda. To my regret, Israel has tried to imitate Europe and America in the last couple of decades, and the fashion of political correctness reminds me of Orwell too. Thanks for your comment, David.

  5. Your tantalising bowl of fruit appears to be a contrasting metaphor for the dark threads that run through this post.

    History shows that every generation swings in the opposite direction to its forebears. Overlain with the technological developments of our time are the human,economic and sharp divides (schisms), the crises and the excuses for appalling behaviours of man, that historically brought the opposing extremes to the fore and as we see, have done so again.

    I guess we could just sit on a swing and look at the stars letting the world go by. No doubt a bulldozer will disrupt the reverie and us on the swing, in no uncertain terms. So, there will still be personal choices to be made, the big one being that of personal survival.

    Not sure what happened to the silence your end around the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. If memories are short, the Football World Cup tournament coincided with it. We have had some media output, and some reminders with the use of chemical weaponry on UK soil. As far as I know, no-one is celebrating.

    • Yes, just as you said menhir, the pictures were meant to offer contrast to my thoughts on the contemporary revolution; pictures from my simple life here. I agree with you that there is the pendulum effect from generation to generation, but it seems to me that we are witnessing a radical change in recent years. If we consider the influence of the invention of movable type in printing, the industrial revolution, or the application of electricity to the use of tools, we can understand better what is happening today. On a personal level, though I use a computer, and have chosen to take advantage of the internet, I didn’t join Facebook or tweeter, and prefer to live my life as I was used to before the digital age. I watch these tremendous changes from outside, and wonder where it’ll go. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Photographs especially the first one I loved so much…. Time changes, world changes, people change,…. there is nothing that not changes…. and future makes me worried…. I can’t catch the speed of all these changes… we are the last generations of our world…. I think.

    Thank you dear Shimon, Blessing and Happiness, Love, nia

    • Thanks so much for your blessing, Nia. I feel much the way you do insofar as the changes are concerned. There was a time when it took generations for such change to occur. But the world seems to be speeding up. And it’s no longer the world we knew when we were younger. I can only hope that my children and grandchildren will be able to deal with it all. With love, my best wishes to you.

  7. The moment we dry our eyes about that abomination is the moment we stop being human.

    • It seems to me, Corina, that progressive people who are open to integration and respectful towards many different ethnic sectors in society could show a little more tolerance towards those who maintain more traditional values. Trump himself is a little coarse, but let’s not forget that he represents half the population in your country. I could understand calling Asad, the president of Syria an abomination, after he dropped barrels of burning gasoline on his own citizens. But it doesn’t seem to me that Trump deserves such condemnation. So far, at least, he hasn’t been convicted of any crime. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Thank you for a sweeping Survey of the past 230 years of modern history. You touched on or alluded to nearly everything of importance. Your essay could and should be used as a basic syllabus for an in-depth course on The modern world, which should be required in any secondary school or university that aspires to excellence.

    • The history of my country and people go back about three and a half thousand years. So we have a bit of a different perspective on current events. We have seen cultures rise and fall, the flowering of society, and the eventual demise. So I was trying to take a step back and look at the contemporary desire to improve the world in the context of recent history. In my youth, history was a required study. Recently I read a popular volume that seemed to me a gross misrepresentation of what I had studied years ago; a cynical attempt to rewrite history in order to further a post modern agenda. Though I admire the existential point of view, I believe that it’s a mistake to ignore all that we’ve learned over generations. Thanks editor, I enjoy your input.

      • I once read “The Gifts of the Jews” by Thomas Cahill. It was one of his “Hinges of History” series of books about peoples and civilizations that changed history. The Jews played one of the earliest key roles shaping Western history, according to Cahill. I hope he got it mostly right. He wrote similar histories about the Greeks and the Irish.

        • I am unfamiliar both with the writer and the book (most of my reading is in Hebrew). But as far as I understand, both the Jews and the Greeks had a great influence on European culture. And after the Romans expelled most of us from our own country, we continued to influence European culture. Unfortunately, we were often unpopular in foreign countries, and I believe I understand some of the reasons for that.

  9. I’m an American who doesn’t worry about a Trump presidency. I like to believe that Democratic and human principles will prevail. Then again, human beings elected the one I call “pathetic person and an even worse leader.” Meanwhile, your father was a wise man – and to me – it seems he inherited his wisdom.

    • I agree with you Frank. The American political system has proven to be exceptionally resilient to fashion, disasters and mistakes in the last 250 years. I admire your country and it pains me to observe such polarization as we see today. It seems a good time to call for tolerance. There appears to be a rise of self righteous fervor among those who in the past were known for their empathetic acceptance of differences in society. I hope that this is just a passing fever.

  10. Continuation of my first comment . . . A few of my reactions. First, this sweeping review of history is restricted primarily to Western history, focusing mostly on the centrality of Europe. Second, As an American, I add that the American revolution immediately preceded the French revolution. But I think clearly the French revolution is the more significant. Third, thank you for reminding us all of the Russian revolution, actually two revolutions, similar to a major earthquake followed by a powerful after-quake. It must say something important about our Present mindset that the centennial of the Russian revolution passed almost without notice. The seachange of the Industrial Revolution can hardly be exaggerated. Third, if you overlooked anything of importance, it might be the development of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. But probably that is really only an extension of the industrial revolution.

    • Thanks for pointing out the importance of nuclear weapons and energy. It was a very significant stage of our development, because it awakened all of humanity to the possibility that we might completely destroy our future existence. And that threat is still hanging over us. It’s true that I emphasized European history in this post because I see the modern world and the technological era as a continuation of European history. There were a number of different complex civilizations in the Americas before the invasion of the Europeans. But within a short period of time, the Europeans stamped their own image on the ‘new world’ and destroyed all the previous cultures. Today, even when the Chinese make cars and computers for the American market, they are imitating and continuing in the European tradition.

  11. Continuing . . . I pray that you are correct about Trump being a blip. But I wonder. It is a long time from the American and French revolutions to the Russian revolution, to the present time, 100 years later. Maybe we are overdue for another major political/economic revolution. Who knows? Seems unlikely that Trump could be the catalyst but . . .

    Yes, we will not ban gambling or eating meat. To that, I would add, it will remain OK to drink alcohol.

    About what you call the Digital Revolution, I do not know. It could crash and burn as a result of nuclear war, or as a result of some horribly successful cyber attack on the Internet. Or even a collapse of electric power grids, on at least a continental scale. In other words, I don’t know if the continuance of the digital revolution is a sure thing. You mentioned the approaching end of human work as we have known it, and I believe you are correct. But thinking about it makes my head hurt too much. I had a conversation yesterday with a man who said that evolutionary history does not prove that the strongest survive. He said that those who can ADAPT to change the most quickly are the ones who survive. I must leave it there.

    • For me, what is unique about the digital revolution is that we are now using second and third generation tools. That is that our tools are now designing the next generation of tools. The sophistication and rate of improvement are constantly improving. The internet is fascinating, and has affected the lives of almost everyone. And it could be vulnerable. But computers are now designing aircraft that are a world apart from anything we could imagine before. In the next decade we will see motor vehicles that are far more efficient, and not dependent on human drivers. Our homes will be much more comfortable and responsive to our own personal characters, and medicine will be so changed that what we accept today will seem more similar to medicine of a thousand years ago than to the new methods.

      • However, I’m afraid we humans are already following orders given to us by computers. It is happening gradually, but already we often have little choice except to comply.

        “Press one to continue in English. Press two to accept cookies. Press three to read and agree to the conditions and restrictions. Press four to enter all your private information. Press five to give us access to your checking account. Sorry, we were unable to process your response. Goodbye.”

  12. Hi Shimon. Another well thought out offering. You sure have the ability to put the words in the right order. Personally, I only worry, for the world, that the little crazy guy alone, might have the ability to really shake up the world. I consider him (or her) to be an abstraction.

    • Hi Bob. Though there’s still a chance that we might do ourselves in with another major war, especially because of nuclear weapons (now in the hands of some very strange characters) I still believe that our end is more likely to come from cosmic changes… storms on the sun, planetary collisions and the like. But even so, history shows that cultures and empires have a life expectancy parallel to the human life expectancy. As they grow old, they grow frail. As a young man I read The Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire, and there were many specifics which one can find today in Europe and America. I wish your country a long and healthy life.

  13. Your dad was a wise man, friend Shimon. I agree, that an eye for an eye is all about justice. Some people call it Karma. Some other people refer to it as: What comes around, goes around. Some other people cannot wait for that kind of justice, and take matters into their own hands and facilitate payback time on their own terms. Some other people emphasize forgiveness. I do believe that there is a time for everything. I saw a bumper sticker the other day on a car in front of me. It said: “One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. ” … I don’t know, why, friend Shimon, but I laughed out loud … and then I cried. I’m glad, you wrote this article, and I love you. Always, cat.

    • Yes, the joke about the nuclear bomb is great. It had me laughing too. As for the different attitudes towards justice, I have the impression that the more idealistic types… those that believe in forgiveness and turning the other cheek, are fine up to a point. But when they break they can be worse than the average man or woman. But I do believe in karma as I understand it. Thanks for your comment, Cat. with love

      • I try really hard not to feel resentment, friend Shimon, but when I think of my grandma and her sisters having to die so early in life around age 45 in 1945, I still have my mumme, she was age 14 at that time … she still will not talk about what she saw back then … Eye for an eye sounds good to me … Much love, cat.

        • I understand your feelings, cat. And especially the feelings of your dear Mum. I too can’t talk about some of the things I saw at an impressionable age. And though I agree with you that an eye for an eye is fair, I don’t include atrocities in that balance. There are some things in this world that have to be completely destroyed if we are able to. My love to you.

    • Dear Cat, I beg your pardon for taking the chance to express my thoughts here.
      Karma isn’t to be misunderstood with “an eye for an eye…” as a kind of relieve, this isn’t about justice.
      Karma actually is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
      But you have to believe in reincarnation, otherwise you don’t take it as a conscious perspective.
      There are others ways of saying: “you reap what you sow”, or “you harm yourself, as dust thrown against the wind comes back to the thrower” or “who sows wind collects storm”… these are in the Italian culture 🙂
      Have a lovely week 🙂 claudine

  14. I would think that after the anti-Israel stance that the Obama administration took toward Israel, most Israeli’s would be pleased that Trump won. I agree with an op-ed I read awhile in the WSJ: the writer didn’t like what Trump says but does appreciate what he does politically: hold China to task on the tariffs, disengage from IRAN and the nuclear “deal,” declare Jerusalem the legitimate capitol of Israel, redo the tax form here in the US, tackle ILLEGAL immigration…all of these things have been done in less that two years.

    Alas, the “deplorables” which, by the way, many individuals throughout history felt was an apt name for Jews, have had their day. Clinton vastly misjudged the fly-over states (and to think I live in the SF Bay Area)! LOL

    • I can understand your expectation, Cheri. It makes sense. And actually, there was a great sigh of relief across Israel when we realized that the Obama administration would not be extended for still another term. But we really didn’t know much about Trump till he was elected, and some of his expressions and behavior did not inspire admiration. He is not what we would call a thinker, and his speech seems a little crude. All the same, his obvious friendship to Israel has won him a lot of sympathy here. But we have another problem. A rather large minority, many of whom have found their niche in the news media as well as in the judicial system find nothing more alluring than the current fashion in Europe and New York, and if they had their way, they would apply to be the 51st state of the US tomorrow. They have replaced the bible with a manual on politically correct, and most of their opinions can be found on the pages of the NY Times. Fortunately, they are still a minority. But they get money from European governments to pursue some very unrealistic agendas, and they often prefer our enemies to our friends. I do worry at times.

      • I agree with every word you have written here. My husband and I are not proud of the person Donald Trump whose life everyone who elected him knew about. He is boorish and crude unlike the smooth-talking Obama and Clinton family. But he was the right person at the right time to try to turn this ship around in the middle of a politically correct sea…The American Jewish community is a mystery to us…

        • Actually, I’d like to correct my comment: I meant the American Reform Jewish community, which gives Israel about as much support as an old girdle. I just quit our temple because of the politics. When I told the finance committee why, they did not care. The rabbi suggested we attend the Gay Freedom Parade in SF on his blog but when grandparents asked to present the talit to our grandson Noah at his Bar Mitzvah, the rabbi said “NO.” Something is very wrong with this picture.

        • In your first comment, Cheri, you made a couple of references towards the end of your comment which I neglected to answer. First, the mention of the smooth-talking Obama and Clinton family, and then that the American [Reform] Jewish community is a mystery to you. So let me share my thoughts on the subject. When Clinton was running for President, I had a good friend who lived in Berkeley (he has passed away since then) who wrote me enthusiastically about Clinton. I replied that were I an American, I would never vote for him. When he asked me why I told him that I had read an interview with Clinton in which he was asked if he ever smoked marijuana. He replied that he had smoked it a couple of times when he was in college, but he didn’t inhale. This gave me the impression that he was either an unabashed liar or a fool. Because the very purpose of smoking weed is to experience its influence, and not for the taste.

          Regarding the Reform Jews, I have a similar criticism. When I was visiting Los Angeles, some friends took me to a restaurant which proudly described their menu as ‘Kosher Style’. I met the owner and asked him what kosher style was. He explained to me that kosher had a lot of antiquated rules that were nothing but a pain for American Jews. So he provided food that wasn’t actually kosher, but they were the same items that so many folks remembered from their mothers’ kitchens, and they did have the same taste. To me, the Jewish religion is something like Yoga. It is a series of rather strenuous exercises which are meant to awaken in the human soul a state of mind and a deep sensitivity in the human soul to the world around us. The Reformed are quite satisfied to be Americans. But they have some nostalgia for the old customs and melodies of our tradition. So with them, it’s all smoke without the inhalation… or as they say in your country, ‘blowing smoke’.

          • All very interesting, Shimon. Your story of the Jewish restaurant with a Kosher-style menu in LA is a classic example of the Reform Jewish movement which is really a social action group, not a religious one. My husband is a convert, having been raised Christian. Before we quit our temple, he was pretty surprised at the politics in every sermon, especially at the High Holidays. Why not stick to the liturgy and use it for self-reflection? Instead, we were hearing about all things Democrat and to the Left. That’s OK at a Social Action Committee meeting but in the sanctuary? Your analogy of Judaism to Yoga is good one, which I will take to heart. I like it. Thank you.

  15. Life goes on. The world is constantly changing and we must adapt our ways of thinking and living in order to enjoy life. While I don’t like many of the changes that are happening around me, I still find a way to be happy in my own little world.

    • I feel much the same as you do, Gypsy Bev. There is so much good in my life, that I really can’t complain. And I really don’t know how seriously to take all the things that appear in the news. But now and then, I do worry about the future. Not that my worrying helps things.

  16. I love knowing history. I did remember the Russian revolution and read about the last Tzar of Russia. As for leaders with big egos, don’t care so much for them. They die, too, just list Stalin and Hitler. As for Gandhi, there is an anecdote on eye and tooth: Fighting for an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, the world would end with a one-eyed and toothless human. As for the future, I am sure it return back to basics. Good evening, Shimon. Thank you for writing.

    • Agree with you Perpetua. Whatever will happen in the future, we can’t do much about it, even if we don’t care to much about the directions things are going. I don’t know about going back to basics. Studying history, we can see that there were significant changes that continued from generation to generation. But sometimes it’s a rocky road, and there are a lot of quakes along the way. Thanks for your comment.

  17. A very thought provoking post, and inasmuch as I agree that in the long run Trump isn’t important, your suggestion that we, as humans, are capable of ignoring what’s troubling us today, is mostly unattainable.
    There are two profound statements in our literature: The world was created for me (בשבילי נברא העולם)
    And the other says: And I’m but dust and ashes (ואנוכי עפר ואפר)
    These statements contain the essence of our existence. Even though we came from the dust and our days are numbered, we can’t NOT take ourselves seriously, nor can we ignore what we consider unjust (despite knowing that justice is subjective). So despite Stalin’s transformation from an ally into a monster, the people who rushed to join the revolution, believed in it at that moment in their lives.
    One can say that there’s no point in getting too upset about almost anything, but can we stop ourselves? That’s the question.

    • I liked the quotes your brought to the discussion, Rachel. They are certainly very helpful pointers in understanding ourselves, and finding a good perspective in life. I also agree with you that it is hard for us to ignore what irritates us or troubles us today. But sometimes we do get obsessive about certain irritations or troubles and lose sight of the whole picture. I didn’t really intend to write about Trump at all when I started this post. But, as sometimes happens when writing, I got carried away to unexpected issues. One of the nice things about a democratic system, is that regardless of what is heard on the media or even in conversations with our friends, every few years there’s an election, and we find out what people really think. And of course, that doesn’t mean that the public is always right, but it’s a relief to know that they have a hand in the matter.

  18. A wonderful essay on modern history, Shimon. I love the picture of your fruit bowl, roses in a jug and Nechama by the window. ❤ The technological revolution (still gathering momentum) fosters disconnection between people, from my viewpoint. The simple things, so beautifully illustrated by your pictures, of connection and loving care, matter. Hugs for you, always xXx

    • I think the technology both brings us together and distracts us from the down to earth experience of living life. But of course, we know that everything has to be taken in proper portions. Food is what keeps us alive, but if we get obsessive about it and eat too much, it can drag us down. The same thing can be applied to the virtual world. It can be very sweet to take advantage of the new inventions, but we don’t want to replace what we knew as life up till now. I too love the simple things, and hug you right back Jane. Best wishes, xxx

  19. Thank you for this Shimon. Yes, traditional values and just plain decency no longer exist, Perhaps we erred on the side of caution too much with political correctness and people are pushing back..still no excuse and frightening to see the Racists coming out of the wood work and 45 not paying it any mind. I fear for the future world, but like you, I am but a blip here and things in the world will revolve and change and continue on long after I am gone. Shabbat Shalom

    • From what I can see here, the traditional values and decency do still exist, and they’re very important to a lot of people. But the communications media are constantly working to excite our interest, and to sell us things. And at times it does seem as if their values and ideas have completely taken over. Especially if we read opinion polls or see people demonstrating in the streets. But even so, Lisa Elisheva, we are an old people, and we have seen empires come and go. We have seen some very strange attitudes towards life, and special languages that were the rage… but later dissipated and were forgotten. Each of us has to make his or her choices, and then live with them. I am grateful for the opportunity. Thanks for the comment.

  20. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (Leviticus 24, 19-20 and Exodus 21,24-27 Torah, or in the old Christian testament Matthew 7.12) is as well found in other cults of ancient Babylon, Islam, and others. I have never accepted this saying as it inevitably leads to discord, violence, and pain.
    It is clear that knowing how to show “the other cheek” (metaphorically speaking), the Jesus of the Christians did not intend to be overwhelmed or defeated. Knowing how to forgive is a very great and precious virtue… trying not to enter into a conflict with those who offend us or try to attack us. Another is to avoid entering into a diatribe that expands violence, then becoming difficult to manage.
    Of course, Shimon, the man forgets. Man seeks to profit only from what he can use without spending money or involving little energy. We are used to “using” both as we please. Without thinking, without worrying about our actions to harm morals and ethics.
    I think this has always existed since we realized that we could compare ourselves to the gods, the deities that we initially had venerated with fear. Even then, the distinction of hierarchies was clear: who governed and who were governed.
    The countless wars, too many, have not taught… because of man forgetting.
    Last week, you were talking about the media. They too are manipulating, not surprisingly, that certain news or pieces of information are not published and, if the case happens, in very small blurbs that go unnoticed.
    I thought of other types of revolutions, perhaps the most naive ones that brought to the generation before my a little hope. Of course, the solution is not the “make love not war” and the use of drugs, this was 1968… but maybe something else was born in this period of time. Many of the young people and students and others who have experienced this “revolution” have perhaps created a great popular movement that has never been recreated… or maybe, I like to think of it, which is being re-created now in a more incisive way but without making a big one fanfare.
    I think of the “unstoppable multitude” of Paul Hawken, who soon, I dare to hope, will reach the critical mass.
    Of course, it is for ethics that I do protect animals, that I do not eat them, that I try to avoid any product derived from them. After all, I know, it is a difficult subject to approach because it requires a certain sensitivity and openness of mind. If the man has evolved, it is only by causality (Darwin – natural selection) and perhaps it was a nasty chance that brought us where we are today: on the edge of a precipice.
    But I trust that we still have the chance to save the Planet… otherwise you and I wouldn’t be here on WordPress, don’t we? 🙂
    Hugs and שָׁלוֹם 🙂 Claudine

    • Dear Claudine, I think that man first created gods as an ideal, sometimes as an ideal vision of the human being, and sometimes as an allegory of the forces of nature. The weaknesses of god weren’t invented to justify the unsavory behavior of man, but to show that even the idea isn’t perfect. As we know, there are all kinds of men; thieves and saints. But the thieves are usually just thinking about themselves where as those who contemplate divinity usually try to pass on some moral idea or belief. Forgiveness is truly a wonderful act, equal to sacrificing one’s self for another. But it is rare. Though turning the other cheek was suggested 2000 years ago, we may examine the history of Christianity since then, and not find a single example of a society which behaved like that. In reality, this is a behavior that is found primarily among the Jews, and it’s not surprising that it came from Jesus who was a Jew, but it didn’t help him either. Ethics are the actualization and the expression of a certain philosophy. Different societies embrace different ethics. For some animals, eating other animals is integral with life. Other animals eat only vegetation. We can certainly learn a lot from the animals who were here on this world before we arrived, but it is also worth noting that the first murder (according to the bible) was that of a vegetarian killing a meat eater. Thanks so much for your comment, and a big hug, with my wishes for peace and happiness.

  21. When ‘change’ of any sort is the issue, I don’t think we can talk about it without also considering issues of control. The more deeply we move into the world of technology, for instance, the more control we willingly cede to companies responsible for those technologies. One of the clearest examples is the self-driving car, where the intent is for drivers to give up all control — at least eventually.

    Climate change is a big issue, of course, and there, too, issues of control underlie much of the conflict. If human behavior is a primary cause of climate change, then rational changes in human behavior should help to ameliorate some of its worst effects. But, if climate changes are, to one degree or another, happening apart from human causation, we may not be able to control them at will. I suspect the hysterical and hyperbolic tone of some climate change discussions is grounded in a horrified sense that we aren’t in total control of this world, despite the protestations of the rationalists and post-modernists.

    As for historical trends and events, I had an interesting exchange recently with a professional historian whose most recent book chronicles changes in the Republican and Democrat parties in this country vis-a-vis race relations. Many people — including myself — haven’t been fully aware of the movement of Democrats, particularly Southern Democrats, into the Republican party in the 1940s and 1950s, and the ways that the movement began re-shaping parties.

    Despite the fact that those political realignments are part of most standard history curricula today, I don’t remember studying them when I was in school, and I finally realized why. My first American history survey course was in 1958 — the very time when those changes were happening. It’s a fact that recognizing the significance of events is hard when you’re in the middle of them. Perhaps that’s part of your point: we’ll have to move a little farther down the road before understanding what we’re in the middle of now. In the meantime, have a drink, walk in the sunshine, and talk with friends. Live life.

    • Though I agree with you, Linda, that control is as much sought after as wealth, it does not seem to me that technology gives any advantage to central power or to the establishment. So far, technology has been hard to fence in (witness the top secret nuclear armament – that didn’t stay a secret more than ten years). The self driving car comes after a century in which many countries recorded more fatalities from road accidents than from war. I can only attribute the longevity of the horseless carriage to the profits of the car makers. In the case of climate change, you might be right. There seems to have been a tug of war since the appearance of man, as humans tried to overcome the power of nature. But regardless of whether the climate has been changed by the use of cars and airplanes or the flatulence of cows, there is no denying that humans have left their mark of litter on almost every square meter of earth. Yes, your conclusion is very close to my feelings about this ‘new age’. On the one hand, a lot of it is fashion, and not the result of generations of study and experimentation. Moreover, the nature of the new morality reminds me of the symptoms that reflected the decline of past societies. Freedom without discipline doesn’t envisage happiness or success. So I agree with you, have a drink, walk in the sunshine, and talk with friends. Live life and smile like the Buddha.

      • Re: technology giving an advantage to central power, this might get closer to the point I had in mind.

        Every now and then, as a sort of test, I’ll throw an item I’ve never before purchased into my shopping cart. If I use either a credit card or the particular store’s discount card, within only a few hours advertisements for the same item, or something related to it, are all over my computer. There have been instances where it’s taken only two hours for those advertisements to appear.

        Another example: when I travel and use a credit card for gas or lodging, the advertisements follow me. If I pay by cash or check, but use my iPad, even with all location settings disabled, it makes no difference. “They” know where I am, even though I don’t know who “they” are.

        Clearly, our illusions of privacy are just that: illusions. Whether the knowledge about our lives provided to others via technology is used for good or for ill depends, as always, on the nature of the people who have access to the information. I don’t intend to become a recluse, but I do keep that in mind, even while I’m matching the Buddha smile for smile!

        • And just like that, look at this article that showed up in my reading today.

        • Ah yes Linda… even though I live far from the Mecca of the post industrial complex, we get followed constantly too. While once I worried about bandits following to rob me of all I had, now I worry less, knowing that all they want is to sell me things I don’t need. Good luck to them. It’s very hard to sell me anything. As you say, there are illusions of privacy… and I would add, there are illusions of invasion of privacy. Because those that are working to increase sales wouldn’t recognize the woman in you, any more than they could discern the soul of Dixie Rose. All they see is a potential buyer. They are incapable of invading our true privacy, because they can’t reach that level or slide to the depths. The only way they can truly invade our privacy is by making noise outside our tent. But we have our methods too… ha ha…

  22. Thanks fot this post Shimon. What do you think about the New World Order?

    • As I said to Linda whose comment appeared right before yours, Yusef, I believe that most of it is just passing fashion. Technology has not really helped us to answer the eternal philosophical questions.

  23. Good morning dear Shiimon. Thank you for this excellent post. Interestingly Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks – just began a week of programmes on BBC Radio 4 today on the subject of ‘morality’. I will wait til the end of the week and listen to all five programmes. He is a man I have great respect for and will be very keen to hear his take on life in the 21st century.

    It is positively amazing how events that seemed to rock the world at the time…are now forgotten. I speak with many people of all ages and in fact had dinner on Saturday with three. Arsha, 27 years old – concert pianist born in Iran – He has just received his British citizenship, hence the celebration. Taline from Lebanon -(friend of my daughter – 43 years old and scientist and another young woman in her thirties who is an accountant with Price Waterhouse and me. Along with good food and wine the conversation flowed for several hours….I find it is so important to listen to others experiences as they make their way in this Brave New World. One of the topics was about ‘dating on line’ which all three of them have done on a regular basis…and are finding it very unsatisfactory…lacking etc. They all talked of how lovely it would be meet like minded people face to face….rather than through a phone! Yes the technical revolution has changed absolutely everything and we haven’t seen anything yet.
    It is as they used to say at the cinema….’the main feature’ – affecting every single element of our lives.

    The key is to enjoy ones own life and the simple things,. For me that means painting, taking a walk in nature, observing people, enjoying good friends….and enjoying to the full the good moments.

    On that note, I think of you and Nechame taking your daily walk and enjoying one another’s company. Janet xxx

    • You know, Janet, when I wrote this post I didn’t think it was especially good… even wondered whether people would understand me. But since I have especially enjoyed many of the comments, I have the feeling that it worked. I’ve never met Rabbi Sacks or heard him, but I have friends who are very fond of him. Morality enhances our appreciation of life, and brings out the nobility of man. Sounds like you had a lot of fun with your dinner companions on Saturday night. That’s where I’ve had my finest philosophical discussions; not in the academy but at the dinner table. Yes, how lucky we are to be pleased with life and to enjoy it as much as we can. And at the same time, there are still people looking for the key, and others running around try to sell the new updated, super key to the enjoyment of life… those rascals. Nechama and I send you a purr and a hug, so glad that you are part of our world. xxx

      • I forgot to mention in my previous comment about another time lapse experience. Where we ate on Saturday (Clapham Common) all very trendy today – is about a five minute walk from the hospital where I was born. Founded by a wealthy suffragette in the days when women doctors and surgeons could not get jobs in hospitals, all the nurses, doctors, surgeons were women….the only males in the hospital were the boy babies. I mentioned this to my three young companions and of course they vaguely knew of the building which has now been renovated into very expensive flats, but had to keep the original fascade….but had no idea that this hospital existed. That’s only 73 years ago! Hugs back to you and Nechame…enjoy a beautiful day. Janet 🙂

  24. Dear Shimon,

    Thank you for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.
    I do strongly believe that it DOES matter who is in the White House. If Al Gore had been president, he would not have started long and expensive wars in the Middle East, or taken a balanced budget and thrown us further into debt by giving ridiculous tax cuts to the obscenely wealthy, at the cost of social programs. He would have been a champion for environmental protection.
    Martin Luthor King said that if you can’t do something great, do small things in a great way. What if everybody did that? What if only half the population did that? What if just a handful of people in the neighborhood worked toward making it a kinder and more compassionate neighborhood? We can’t just stop caring and we can’t just give up.

    Shalom,
    Naomi

    • Hi there Naomi. Good to see you again. I can understand your frustration that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton didn’t win those elections. But it seems to me that a very important part of the democratic system is accepting the results of an election, even if they aren’t what you hoped and worked for. The advice of Martin Luther King that you recalled says it the best. Even if your side lost, it doesn’t look good to weep and storm months afterwards, and damn him and besmirch him day in and day out. Better to take King’s advice and do the little things in a great way, improving your neighborhood and lifting the mood among your friends till your side gets another chance in office. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be seen as a sore loser.

  25. Dear Shimon,
    One of the reasons I’m not blogging so much is because I’ve become much more active in my Neighborhood Action Coalition since the inauguration. I’ve been creating and hosting activities to make my town a safe and welcoming place for everyone, especially marginalized groups like LGBTQ and people of color, which are experiencing much more open discrimination under this current administration. My husband has championed teachers’ unions and education, which have seen huge budget cuts while obscene tax cuts are being handed out to the wealthy. That is something we can do to have a positive affect in our community.

    As for weeping and storming, it is important to distinguish between losing an election, and having the outcome of an election affected through illegal means, including collusion with a foreign government. Robert Mueller is finding ample evidence to confirm that this happened. With midterm elections looming, we must do everything we can to prevent this from happening again, and that includes speaking out, protesting, contacting our representatives.
    One cannot afford to be passive when so much is at stake. This is not just about the outcome of an election; it is about national security, and preserving civil rights, about preventing injustice, such as the cruel and unnecessary separation of children from their families, over 500 of which are still in concentration camps despite having been ordered to be reunited with their parents. Had people not ‘stormed’ in outrage at this despicable treatment of human beings, you may be certain that it would still be going on.

    • Dear Naomi, I am not surprised by your account of your social activity, That is something that has held my respect from the time I first met you. And I sensed that your dedication to humanistic causes is something you shared with your husband and instilled into the education of your children.

      Along with that, I somehow expect that you believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and that you wouldn’t be part of a lynch mob, even if it’s only on the level of words. The man who was legally elected as President of your country might be hard to take. He’s a braggart, and coarse; insensitive to the feeling of others, and has a political view which is an anathema to you and your friends. But all the same, and even though I am not a citizen of your country, I expect that he should be tried (or impeached) by law. And till the law decides, I would advise respect and caution. Just because you don’t like him. He still has the assumption of innocent until proven guilty. If and when he is proven guilty, he will get what is coming to him, and there will be many who will compete in the damnation. But till then, as a friend, I would suggest moderation.

  26. Dear Shimon,
    Thank you for your kind words. Don’t worry, I do not sit in a corner and stew with resentment. That’s like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. I far prefer to take positive action and do what I can to make a difference where I am able to make a difference. And I can always find comfort and joy in my family, with my friends, in my garden, or through my art.

    He will be impeached, and he will be found guilty, and on that day I won’t rejoice. I will be crying tears of relief, and then I will do whatever I can to help pick up the pieces of our broken country, repair the incalculable damage he has done while in office, and look forward to a better future.
    Shalom,
    Naomi

  27. So many excellent points! But first, I did love the picture of the fruit bowl with Nechama in the background, and I liked the chair to the left, it looks like one I bought many moons ago, in an auction, it was old then, walnut with a rattan back. I still treasure it.
    Oh, how time flies by and change along with it, but, this is a different change, for better and for worse, as always, and yes, humans have a cruel streak and will use technology to further their cause, as they always have. War always advances technology….and humans are always at war. But I am human too, and although quite capable of viciously fighting to the death to protect my flock, I prefer to quietly go about my business, make a difference where I can re the small, tiny stuff and try to keep abreast of things. For what it’s worth, I would have let Millie live and go foraging first…..how true about history pre internet being the dark ages, daughter has no idea what a record is! I think, whatever times we live in, we just have to stand up for what we can when we can. Artificial intelligence will be the next mega threat I think, along with astronomical influences. Wonderful post, as always.xxx

    • It’s true Dina, that war has brought forth many advances in technology, but the same could be said for commercial interests, and the genius of mankind. In the case of war, as soon as one party justifies aggression, others are forced to consider defense. As much as we may be against war, until everyone is convinced, there isn’t much we can do. But even when technology is developed for peaceful uses, it’s very difficult to determine all the implications of the use of new technologies. Sometimes it takes years till we discover the side effects of new medicines, tools, or technology. When people discovered the horseless carriage, a little more than a hundred years ago, it seemed like a miracle. And it certainly made day to day life easier. But who would have imagined all the injured and dead that were to result from such a great technological device. Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but as we approach our Jewish New Year, I’ve been doing some soul searching; and it’s painful to consider how much easier it is to progress intellectually than to advance emotionally or to expand our consciousness. Best wishes to you and yours, xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s