Or Remembering St. George
It probably would be a complete chutzpah on my part to re-affirm that King Solomon was a very wise man and a great prophet. But, as mentioned before, I am approaching the middle-age marker; and along with this usually come certain weariness and philosophical introspections (not that I did not over-analyze everything to death when I was younger). But, the more I observe my fellow humans and the more I try (albeit meagerly) to self-educate myself in history, the more I realize the beauty of this profound statement from Ecclesiastes.
Nothing is new under the sun. People seem to be changing constantly: food, clothes, customs, languages, borders of the countries, countries themselves; progress here, regress there, freedom, slavery, cannibalism, advance of human rights... Humanity (especially civilized part of it) seems to be constantly in motion, hopefully towards the better things. And then you stop and look a bit beneath the surface of things, and you realize that nothing really changes, and that the time basically goes in circles, like the times of the year or the phases of the moon. Human beings (even the civilized ones) are actually diminishing with each generation removed from the original pair created by G-d. And all the darker parts of the human soul rear their ugly heads again and again.
Believe it or not, the disgustingly idiotic circus of the past few months otherwise known in this country as the last Presidential elections presented a wonderful demonstration. American public had to opportunity to observe, or even to participate in the oldest, and, in a sense, most repugnant rituals of humans: idol worship, black ingratitude, and the mass hysteria of the demented mob. By the last count, the rituals are still in full swing.
Few months ago, I got into another philosophical mode while reading one of Prelutsky's articles. In it, he was mocking the college commencement speeches that are always praising the graduating class as the best of the best. According to him, most of the graduating youngsters are not dreaming of slaying the dragon; they just want to find a job and start paying off their tuition loans. I agree with Burt that graduating classes are rarely the best of the best, especially in the view of their overwhelming participation in this wonderful cult of personality we all are currently witnessing. But what a sad thing to think that the younger generation is not dreaming of heroic actions! When else in your live can you dream of slaying a dragon and saving everyone, if not when you are a teenager or a young adult?
And sadder still is the realization that even if you did daydream of being a hero in your younger days, the older you get, the more you realize that dragon is not the worst you will have to engage in battle if you want to retain your humanity. Dragon lives in you: your lack of faith, moments of despair, hopelessness, and evil inclination in general. But from the outside enemies, dragon, as horrible and vicious as he may be, always attacks head on. The bloodiest, most exhausting, and sometimes seemingly hopeless battles would always be with jackals and snakes.
Finally, on the heels of all the different disjointed thoughts and musings, another realization crystallized in my mind quite some time ago - I have a bad case of a very old Jewish sickness. Which one is it? The desire to stick my stiff Jewish neck in the matters that should not really concern me as a Jew; you see, I know that this country is only a stop on our very long journey back home, to the Holy Land. But I love this country; I love it with every fiber of my being. This country sheltered me, allowed me to discover who I am and to be who I am, and, as I mentioned before, most probably saved my life. Gratitude is in our genetic makeup; and I will not give up on this country. I will resist her enemies (especially the domestic ones) as much as I can; and I will pray to The Heavenly Father to continue to protect and to bless this here US of A.