Today’s journey – follow these instructions:
1. Before you read on – take a listen to this track clip – (the whole track is at the end).
Take a second to get this into your consciousness.
(Translation: The whole world is a narrow bridge and the key is not to be afraid. Written by Reb Nachman of Breslov.)
2. Now, read the following statements that appear in articles in this month’s Sh’ma Journal:
- “China may overtake the U.S. and regain its role as the largest economy in the world by the year 2030” (HO-MOU WU)
- Palestinian–Israeli conflict: “while the U.S. tilts toward protecting Israel’s interests, China tilts toward the Arab side. From the Chinese perspective, the State of Israel was established by allying with the imperial powers of that time, first with the British, then with the Soviet Union, and finally with the United States. China also favors the Palestinians because the Arab countries offered international support to China in the 1960s and 1970s after the Bandung Conference, when China was isolated by the animosity of the West. Today, the United States remains the con- trolling power in the Middle East…However,…American influence in the region is diminishing.” (YIYI CHEN)
- “How can Israel develop ties with China without sacrificing its longstanding relationship with the United States?…China’s emergence as America’s main global rival means that every encouraging advance in Sino-Israel relations is a setback for U.S. interests in the Jewish state.” (SAM CHESTER)
- China “just experienced a major leadership change. While the new leaders and their advisors are still feeling their way, long-term trends in China’s global and Middle Eastern policies are important to watch…More than oil, a fear of the U.S. determines Chinese Middle Eastern policies…One fifth of the world’s population is Muslim and China intends to engage them. China fears Muslim terrorism” (SHALOM SALOMON WALD)
I typically listen to music when I write these blog posts – I put it on shuffle. This blog post – I put on my “jewish stuff” playlist and as I began to write – Sheva Band’s “Salaam” came on (the original – not the over-hyped crazy American anlglification of the middle-eastern masterpiece).
I thought to myself,
“yes – od yavo shalom alienu peace will come – perfect”.
“no, Naomi, it’s a pipe-dream. It’s not possible – not when this world is so fear driven.”
Sitting on a bus headed for DC, reading through the Shma Journal (admittedly because I really don’t know much about the connections between China, Israel, Judaism and America), I was conscious to what happened to my body and energy. As I read further and further my jaw started to clench, my eyebrows furrowed, my muscles got tighter – yep – it was unmistakable. I was feeling…stressed.
WHAT WAS HAPPENING HERE??
I paused, turned to my trusted friend Shawn Shafner – a fellow traveler of the Storahtelling kind – and as we journeyed to a conference on early childhood focused (ironically?) on the re-introduction of peaceful PLAY as part of human development – I realized that so much of what I read was indeed creating a sense of FEAR in me.
We all know it’s not good to live in fear.
We try hard to minimize it.
“Fear Less”, right?
But our media is centered around it.
These shma articles (I believe unintentionally) perpetuate it.
Who’s in power?What will happen if we lose power?What happens if a country is friends with two countries that fear each other?
Yes, the bridge between these countries is an unstable, high up in the air, waving in the wind, huge drop below – and extremely narrow type of bridge.
And then I laughed – I’m on my way to a conference on early childhood – focused on play and imagination. Attention to how we learn to be together in a classroom.
And here it is – played out on the world stage.
The big question: what, if anything, can we do about it?
Acknowledge it? Sure – but is it really possible for us to create less fear on the world’s stage?
Or are we only able to solely focus on the choice in our own lives to not get dragged down – to not hyper-focus on the news, to stay present, to unclasp our hands and actively work on loosening our jaws and un-furrow our brows?
Can the whole world ever rise above it all and not live in fear?
Or is that just a self-exercise?
3. I invite you to take exactly 2:54 to let that sink in as you listen Reb Nachman’s words
(Music can be purchased on itunes. The song is part of an album called “David Melech” – this melody, written by Baruch Chait, is sung by “Lehakat HaYitzug”.)