Feature Article

You Are Significant. You Count. I Am Relying On You.

The year has ended with many challenges: natural cataclysms creating loss and homelessness; human error forcing many Israelis from their homes; an internal 'emotional stutter' in many relationships resulting in spiritual malaise - a general sense of despair seems to characterize many lives around the world. Pollution of waterways, soil depletion, toxicity in the food chain, 'fast-foods', are also major detractors of our wellbeing and health - as well as the wellbeing of our very planet. And the backdrop of the human condition in many parts of the world is corruption, political inequity, personal greed, and the quest for raw power camouflaging personal and national insecurity..

On a another plane, I am hearing despairing and fear-laden comments like:

  • I don't quite understand what life is all about any more. I thought I did. But not any longer.
  • I find my spiritual life barren. The synagogues and temples don't speak to me. Prayer and services are foreign and devoid of meaning.
  • The gap between myself and my children has widened so greatly that I am at a complete loss to understand their goals, their lifestyle, their aimlessness.
  • It's all happening too fast. What is an MP3? Why is the music on internet sites instead of CDs? Why are mobile(cell) phones so complicated? Where have all the travel agents gone? But I don't want blue-tooth technology - my dentist is perfectly OK. It's all too much. I don't recognize the world any more - it's not the same world I was raised in.

And it's all true. We are living in the most challenging period of world history. The pace of change coupled with the uncertainty of tomorrow is creating a real question mark in people's lives - especially if you are 40 something plus.

So why am I so confident about the future? Why do I see the positive in all the features of modern life? Why do I trust the future and foresee humanity catapulted into an era of growth and immense joy?

Because I believe! The simple act of belief changes the terms of reference, shifts the paradigm - puts a new frame on the reality my eyes perceive and my ears discern. What is this belief that can literally transform fear into quiet confidence? It's not complicated at all. It is simply an acceptance that life and world is not random - not a chance meeting of a few molecules in a primordial soup. I choose to believe that the world and its inhabitants are the result of deliberate design, staged progress, and is goal oriented. I believe in spiritual reality, not mere Newtonian cause/effect relationships. I believe in the quantum!

I know how beliefs create realities. I have witnessed first hand how people who suffer from illness, relational pain, and intense empathy with people's hurt, are literally heroes whose beliefs create cure, healing, and the spread of happiness. I have witnessed first hand how one person's strength of character, leadership qualities, and up-beat manner, can change the mood and destiny of community and country. I know that it only takes one person to affect the many. I was taught that a little light can drive away a lot of darkness. To me September 11th is about the heroism of people who put their lives on hold to assist those in need - the firemen, the ambulance drivers, the volunteers. So is my focus in all tragedies. I can't explain tragedy. But I can respond to it. That is my freedom. That is my humanity. That is my future.

We are entering a New Year - Rosh HaShannah. The spiritual teaching is that a new energy, a new aura, descends into the world re-creating and re-invigorating the Cosmos with a new dimension. But just as a seed needs fertile ground to realize it's growth potential, so does creation need you and I to be the catalysts for the world's growth and change.

I need you. G-d needs you. We need you to take responsibility for our future, and the future of your own family and the future of the world. I want you to take pride in creation and play your essential role to move it forward. How? Let me make a seven very practical suggestions:

  1. Smile at strangers in the street. It's gutsy and somewhat forward. But as the Tanya quotes: "As a face is reflected in water, so do we reflect each other." That smile can significantly affect someone else's life..
  2. Keep a ready sign in the car to flash at angry drivers. The sign should read: "You can make a difference. Think about it."
  3. Keep fit, eat nutritionally, don't abuse your body, and most importantly - feed your soul.
  4. There's a fifty percent chance that the challenge you are now facing may create a very real opportunity for you. In the absence of powers of prescience, why resort to the other fifty percentile of fear? Choose life!
  5. Don't lecture your children. Walk the talk. The example you set will leave your mark in their psyche and conscience. more than any righteous harangues.
  6. Don't merely 'love' those close to you - express the love tangibly with small acts of random kindness.
  7. Have a chat with G-d, at least once a week. Bare your soul. Ask for good things to happen in the world and in your life. It doesn't take much to create a new reality. Let meaning and purpose become your soul mates.

You are a significant and unique aspect of creation. Live up to the potential you possess. G-d has confidence in you - that's why you have been re-incarnated into this life-time. Be a leader within - and then you will be a leader without.

May the coming year grant all of us personal and collective transformation leading to peace, fulfillment, and insight.

Ketiva VaChatima Tova.