Oy. I briefly considered writing the word ‘oy’ a thousand times for this week’s Before Shabbat. Because that’s how I feel at the end of this week. I’d like to believe this dark, heavy feeling is due to the excess tryptophan from all that turkey last week. Or maybe I could blame it on the quiet house and the absence of my kids and grandkids after the Thanksgiving festivities – you know, those post-holiday blues.
Only I know that’s not it, at least, not entirely. For one, there’s the growing list of men who have sexually harassed and/or assaulted women or other men. I look at all of those names, and I feel so let down. Among them are men of renown. Trusted men of erudition and insight. Creative, enlightened men. Politicians who have worked for the empowerment of women and minorities in various contexts. Men of power and presence possessing true gravitas. Men who have debased women with an attitude and with actions that are shameful and narcissistic and some of which are criminal.
I don’t know how to understand this story, how to ‘metabolize’ it. It is complicated. But at the center of its dark heart, it is grim news.
Next, there’s the North Koreans’ latest missile launch which seems to prove that they’re getting closer to creating a way to nuke us. I’m not building a fallout shelter anytime soon, but it doesn’t make me feel good to have this on my anxiety radar screen.
Of course, there’s the President’s tweet the other day of unattributed violent anti-Muslim videos retweeted from a British alt right website. I would assume that even if you voted for the sitting president, you’d agree this latest round of tweets isn’t particularly good for our bond with the British. Why would he risk destabilizing our relationship with such a loyal ally? This unpredictability is sometimes nerve-wracking (see the previous paragraph).
I won’t continue the list, though you’re most welcome to send me your anxiety nominations. I will tell you that I went to http://www.globalgoodnews.com in desperate search of something cheery. This website, connected to the Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation empire, seemed a bit sketchy at first. Their examples of good news stories included stuff like, “Growing demand for Spanish organic fruits and vegetables in Sweden,” or “Pennsylvania offers $30 million to create solar jobs”. This hardly counters the big-league negativity I’ve been complaining about. But… there’s also this: “Woman raises more than $60K for homeless man who gave his last $20 to rescue her”, or “Pioneering climate fund for developing world gets a boost at U.N. talks”. These articles prove that the world is only filled with bewildered innocents and horrible perpetrators of every imaginable sin.
I am such a dualist, a true Hegelian fascinated with and held prisoner by the endless dialectical Mobius twists. To that end, any news item that ends without bloodshed, arrest, or mendacity is worth looking at. I need it to gain some sense of spiritual balance. Good news never makes bad news better; it just reminds us that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train – sometimes.