The Time That Is Given To Us
I must confess that Lord of the Rings is my favorite story. The struggle of a splintered Fellowship to overcome Evil and its power in spite of overwhelming odds, tremendous losses, and soul-chilling fear never fails to enthrall me. And I shudder at the world today in which my children are growing up, because the Shadow is spreading from the East again. The rise of a jihadi religious fascism which calls for the death of all human beings who don't join in their cause (especially Jews) is chilling. The savage butchery of Christian neighbors in Nigeria who had_nothing_to_do_with_the_Mohammed_cartoons_in_Denmark but were targeted solely because they were 'infidels' of a religion similar to Denmark's makes me want to shriek to G-d in rage and pain and anger.
As Jews, we say "Never again." But what does that mean in a world where genocide (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Darfur) has become commonplace? And where the murder of one person is so negligible that it doesn't make CNN?
Today, Yona told me that NPR finally picked up the story of a young Jewish guy in Paris who was abducted, tortured for three weeks and finally murdered. It finally made the MSM in the US this week. The French police and prosecutor denied antiSemitism was a motive -- until the arrests of some of the suspects who said, in effect, yeah, we killed him because he's a Jew.
There is no safe place any more. Perhaps there never was. Those of us old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and imminent nuclear destruction probably hoped it all went away when the Berlin Wall came down. It didn't. Hate, anger and war are like energy--they seem to never dissipate, and always come back in some other form.
If there is no safe place, then there is no point in hiding in the Yukon or a bomb shelter. Live life and bring something of yourself to the world. I am reminded of a story supposedly of Arab origin about life and death: a merchant goes one morning to the souk, and there he sees Death strolling through the marketplace. The merchant pales, gasps out loud, drops his merchandise and then flees in panic from the marketplace. He rushes home, grabs some supplies, mounts his camel and rides out of the city as fast as he can, heading for a distant town across the desert. Death sees this and is bemused...."I don't understand why he is in such a hurry this morning. I don't have an appointment with him until tonight in the desert."
Gandalf put it in perspective when Frodo wished against Fate:
" I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened," Frodo said.
Gandalf answered him, "So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."