We no longer suffer from a lack of external resources, but, from a lack of love.
Over this Rosh Hashana, I have come to realize that we are now living in a vastly different kind of time period than we had in the past. The past was marked by a scarcity of resources basic to human life. Food, medicine, distance, lack of information were just a few examples of the often seemingly impassable barriers of the day. They were real and formidable obstacles. Only a few could live comfortably, as resources were relatively scarce and hard gained. Such situations often lead to oppression, slavery and even seemingly benign forms of upper classes taking advantage of lower classes. All sorts of cultural norms and religious doctrine formed around legitimizing and perpetuating class hierarchy.
This generation seems to be the very first in human which has access to enough resources to transform our planet into an earthly paradise. We have plenty of food, medical know-how, instant global communication, swift shipping systems, renewable energy resources, (hopefully soon) basic universal income, etc. Our seeming problems can, with the right cooperation, become wonderful opportunities. For example, our problem of rising ocean levels can be coupled with the new Israeli desalination technology to provide water for very large populations. Plus, we can create extensions of the ocean into mainland areas of large continents; a measure which can have so many benefits. Among these benefits are a balancing of the sea level, sparing of coastal cities and islands, making desert and wilderness areas habitable, an influx water and fish into new areas, an expansion of habitable area for aquatic life and for terrestrial life living symbiotically with aquatic life. Such measures may have profoundly positive impacts on economies, as new construction projects, towns and cities, fishing areas and resorts dot the globe.
Whereas yesteryear’s barriers to crafting our planet into a paradise came both from what was external to us and what was internal to us, today’s barriers are truly internal only. The only real barrier seems to be the human heart. It’s about where people are spiritually and psychologically. We no longer suffer from a lack of external resources, but, from a lack of love. Do we love each other enough to help each other? Though a great start, there needs to be ultimately something more than simply, we all share the same set of problems and can only lift ourselves out via cooperative efforts. That kind of attitude is much too superficial to last, as it mostly reeks with self concern.
This harks back to the wisdom which our sages offered that the exile of the Jewish people was primarily a result of an opposite of love. In the first century, Jerusalem had sufficient resources to avoid the problems which led to the Jewish people becoming a landless nation. It was internal politics and infighting which led to the problems and elicited an unfortunate Roman response. Had the local population been more sensitive to each other and really considered their situation, Rome would not have attacked Jerusalem, sacked the Holy Temple and chased the Jewish people from their homeland.
Though I seem to be merely repeating an old message, it carries particular relevance for us today. Years ago, people were able to hide behind the excuse that the world appears as it does because there just isn’t enough resources to go around and it had little to do with who they were personally. Today, the rug has been pulled from right under this excuse. All necessary resources are present and can easily get around. The only barrier seems to be human heart itself. We need to ask difficult questions on the personal level and on the societal level, such as, “Will the selfish edge of politics and financial greed give way to the better side within each of us, to the call of our souls?”
Soon before passing out of public life, the late Lubavitch Rebbe reported to the world that the messianic age can easily happen, “Now!” We just have to really, really want it. Back then I certainly trusted him, but, it sounded to me like something of a miracle. I couldn’t see how the earthly dots could connect to make such an event neatly possible. Today, with internet and so much further technological progress, I so clearly see it. However, the human heart and soul still has to want it! We have succeeded in changing the outer world. Now we need to change our inner worlds.
Perhaps, many of us really do want it. But, are we reeking with this wanting so desperately, to the point that it just overflows into meaningful actions!
I know that I am. That’s why I write!