I imagine that like myself, many of you have gotten caught up in the whirl of news casts fighting to attract our eyeballs with the latest on Trump, Netanyahu, the UN, EU, LOL or whatever. But can we take a minute together and try to get some perspective on this?
Let's say we lived in the 15th century and were asked to name the most important individual or issue of the day, we would have several obvious choices. We might say the death of Timur (Tamerlane) whose conquests swept across Asia, devastating the young Ottoman Empire and the Mamluks and emerging as perhaps the most powerful man in the world. He died in 1405.
Or we might have gone for Joan of Arc, who as a teenager led the French and turned the tide of the Hundred Years' War. Many would have pointed to the legendary battle of Agincourt, even if they did not know that Shakespeare would later immortalize England's triumph over France. Or perhaps one would simply choose the hundred years war itself, a long bloody battle that along with plague succeeded in killing half of the population of France, three quarters of Normandy and a third of England.
If we lived through the entire century, we could go for the fall of Constantinople on 1453, finally putting an end to the Roman Empire. Or still later of course, Columbus and the Inquisition, both epochal, both in 1492.
All good guesses, all wrong. The most significant event in that century was the action of a little known tinkerer, Johannes Gutenberg, who invented movable type and introduced printing to Europe. Without that invention, no spread of the Bible, no Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment or iPhone.
So while the daily controversies surrounding the White House, or the
latest struggles over the Temple Mount are headline-grabbing and important developments in our social, religious and political history, some perspective would be helpful. An eagle's eye view reminds us that what looms large today can shrink over time. Often it is the small, little noticed change that proves more consequential, although it requires a keener eye to spot.
Treating tweets as tragedies or triumphs on a global scale is foolish
and short-sighted. Right now in New Dehli or Tel Aviv or Kiev, a teenager may well be germinating an idea that will prove more powerful than any elected official, or government policy.
This does not negate the daily struggle that is essential in any political process. Both sides will continue to battle for their point of view, and each should advance its concerns which can profoundly affect the daily lives of so many here in Israel and abroad.
Yet we should remember the lessons of the past, even the distant past. Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt there was no daily press or internet. Twitter was called 'papyrus.' But the actions of the Pharaoh and his court reverberated through society and seemed the most important possible events. The average Egyptian rejoiced or trembled depending upon what the ruler decided. He probably could not imagine any other way.
And surely most would have assumed that the Pharaoh's decrees would echo throughout the corridors of history. As indeed they have, but only because, in a small basket, nestled in reeds, there was a baby who would be called Moses.
You just never know.