October 3, 2014

Mark Rubin Writes stays away from religion, mostly. (When politics and religion mix, though, staying mum requires effort. And when a certain Supreme Court justice—last name rhymes with President Obama’s oldest daughter’s first name—manages to find in his particular form of textualism religious rights never mentioned in the Constitution, look for steam coming out of a certain person’s ears!)

Anyway, as I write it is Erev Yom Kippur, the start of the Jewish Day of Atonement, aka the Holiest of Holy Days. The one day in the year when I cannot avoid touching on faith, broadly.

What to write, which is not generally a challenge for me? I need to finish quickly as the sun is over the yardarm, for sure, and Jewish holidays begin at sundown. Nothing about food, for Yom Kippur is a fast day. (If you’re fasting have an easy fast, and if you’re in hot lands, drink water, for health trumps law, always.) And nothing too heavy, for I want no one to lose the focus on reflection and repentance.

So last week I mentioned the Days of Awe, and how much more I like that expression than the High Holy Days. It took me a day or so to figure out why, and then it hit me:  The Boy in the Bubble, by Paul Simon. Performed on the Graceland album, the song focuses on the fight for freedom in South Africa. The key line for me, and the one that connects me with Days of Awe, is “these are the days of miracle and wonder … .” Awe = miracle and wonder? Maybe, and it’s certainly not a stretch!

In my lifetime the Soviet Union no longer exists. China rejoined the community of nations. Blacks and whites live peacefully, side by side, in South Africa. Protestants and Catholics live peacefully, side by side, in Northern Ireland. Yes, there are many, many problems (see below), and it’s not without plenty of cause that we watch the news and have a sense that all is going the wrong way. But we really do have much to celebrate and consider, as we look into our recent past and think about our future.

Now for a bit of what has not gone swimmingly. Some of the Soviet republics underperform, to put it mildly, and Mother Russia—my homeland, truly—leaves much to be desired (and will never see me on her soil.) New problems have developed here at home, as the pie stopped growing and some people took bigger and bigger pieces. And in the Middle East my people and the people Ms. J calls “your cousins” really cannot seem to get along. Really cannot get along, although I’ve always thought Northern Ireland and even South Africa were the high school junior varsity to the National Football League that is really solving the Middle East!

Still, as we look forward, we have much to be hopeful about. Young people, the Millenials, are amazing! Climate change can be solved with lots less effort than we think, if we start now. And while we have to share, more and more, with the population in developing nations, we have developing nations, and that means the pie may grow yet again, someday.

A smile with nothing behind it in the face of adversity has never solved a problem. Neither, however, has a sense of hopelessness. So for me, as one artificial year has passed into another, I’m focused on how much I see and have seen that works, and how important it is that we all come together to use what has worked well going forward.

Back ‘atcha after 6 on Saturday with break-fast news and pics.


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