Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The 10th Plague & change we can believe in....

If you want to find me on a Friday night, the last place you should come looking is Shabbat services at the local synagogue.
As it turns out, by circumstance and perhaps design of the Almighty God :) , I've attended Stephen Wise Synagogue the last two Friday nights and will go again this week, mainly to accompany Lisa, who is in mourning for the loss of her father. Anyway, the point is not to brag about mitzvahs but to reflect on last week's sermon and the process of change.

The rabbi's sermon was loosely based on a reading from the Book of Exodus: the story of the 10th plague, the horrific slaying of the first-born sons of Egypt. The rabbi began by meditating on the idea that Pharoah, unable to 'hear' or perceive the will of God after 9 plagues, needed a 'convincer'. Just when I thought he was dwelling in the spiritual plane, he suddenly shifted gears to rail against the evils of capitalism, the obscene Wall Street bonuses, etc. That's when he lost me.

I drifted off and began to reflect on the conditions necessary to achieve personal, professional, and societal change. Big questions... and my thoughts may be inadequate to the topic. But it's clear that the Change We Need and voted for has eluded us so far. Why?

Perhaps the fable of the 10 plagues offers us some clues. Through my prism, this part of the Torah speaks loudly and clearly about the obstacles to change in both the heart and mind. And of the regrettable feature of the human condition that fundamental change is often impossible without a catastrophic series of events.

We are in such a period now, but there is reason to doubt that our political leaders have 'hit bottom' and are willing to abandon the tried and true for a completely different approach. We the people are way ahead of them, but they fall back to what they know best-- Republican tax cuts and Democratic spending programs. And the man in charge is issuing edicts that suggest that execs making $500K and above are somehow obscene. Pathetic.

What will be necessary for real change? Do we need to see a 4000 Dow, unemployment of 15-20 %, bread lines, and riots in the streets? Do the people need to suffer on a wide scale to force our leaders into a whole new paradigm? What unimaginable event does our 10th Plague need to be to wake up the comfortably cocooned DC pols?

We won. Let's start acting like it with intelligent, progressive spending policies focused on the middle class-- unemployment and health benefits and homeowner financial relief. Spend money on short term job creation. Get spending money into consumers' pockets and jawbone the nation about the way forward, not retribution against the failed wizards of financial engineering. Everything else, as has been said, 'is commentary'.

Pharoah waited until absolute disaster struck to be dragged kicking and screaming toward a decision to free the Israelites and usher in a new era. We cannot afford to wait. Barack, show us the road to the Promised Land...and let my people go...back to work!


No comments:

Post a Comment