Friday, January 12, 2007

On Israel, the Power of the Individual, and Haloscan

Posted by Cardozo--and welcome back!

Practically every story I’ve ever heard or read about the modern state of Israel has involved an explosion of some kind. So when I left Los Angeles for Tel Aviv last month, part of me wondered if there would be anything there left to see. How many explosions can one small piece of land absorb?

Quite a few, apparently, because the cities I visited were pretty well intact. Furthermore, I survived two weeks in Israel without encountering a single one. No bus or café bombings, no rockets falling from the sky. As far as I could tell, everything was a-okay. Of course, the recent war with Hizbollah was a frequent topic of conservation, especially in the North. But the Israelis I met talked about the war like Californians talk about earthquakes: as an isolated event that scared them half to death at the time, but that is no longer relevant to daily life.

The relative state of calm that I found in Israel caused me to reflect on war, and its persistence. Israelis have been forced to endure a lot: not infrequent invasions, a burgeoning threat of nuclear annihilation from its neighbors, and the possibility that a suicide bomber might at any time be walking among them. And yet, in between such wars and acts of violence, life quickly returns to normal, apparently. Why, I wondered, aren’t Israelis more obsessive about the political conflict that makes their existence so precarious? How could they possibly think about anything else?

On reflection, I think the answer is simple. Life finds a way. When and where it is possible, people will pursue fun, love, adventure, art – all the things that make life tolerable. Furthermore, the average Israeli lacks the power to actually impact the direction of the political situation, so why bother obsessing over it?

This dynamic (it occurs to me, Bush) is the very thing that makes the development of peace so difficult to achieve. We find the same dynamic, of course, here in the United States, and practically everywhere else. Even in Iraq, where daily life is absolutely co-opted by war, people can do very little but try and protect themselves and eke out whatever satisfaction they can from life. We are pawns in a global chess game that alternately bores (in the case of the U.S.) or overwhelms us (in the case of Iraq or any other location currently experiencing the localized effects of the latest chess move.)

My conclusion? Those of us who have the luxury of walking the streets in relative safety, of having reliable access to food and shelter, of pursuing happiness, in short; we, the fortunate, must live our lives to the fullest. This means not only maximizing our personal happiness, but also staying as true as possible to our values, thereby living out our potential. I cannot tell you, Bush, that your paradigm of good versus evil is destructive to peace. I cannot tell you that compassion must lie behind all actions, even warfare. But I can certainly live these truths and trust that, eventually, they will trickle up.

My biggest pet-peeve about the progressive blogosphere is that compassion and a belief in the goodness inherent in mankind – the basic tenets of progressivism, in my opinion – are not borne out. Check out the discussions on Haloscan or Blogger or WordPress, Bush, and you will find accusations flying (mostly directed at you, of course), and compassion reserved for the victims of your tyrannical foreign policy. Progressives believe that hatred when acted upon cannot lead to peace, and yet many of the participants in these online diaologues hate you, and (it would seem) all conservatives, too.

More thoughts on why this apparent discrepancy exists in a future entry, Bush.


PK said...

Thank you for your post Cardozo. When I see pictures on the news or on the Net, I picture the land in ruins, yet you say that is not so. Propaganda is such an ugly thing isn't it? Not that I like to read of it, but I am glad it's only isolated. Now if it can be stopped in the isolated areas, my heart would be a happy one for the people living there, and for the other side too. All should be able to live in peace with thier family's. I am so grateful to be where I am, and my wish for all there is to be able to say the same.

Cardozo said...

pk...what a beautiful sentiment. Cheers to that!