Sunday, May 7, 2017

"I would be frightened if I were ruled by a person who is satisfied, to have the answers to everything."

It is one of the great advantages to have not replaced my TV when they switched to digital that I can't be tempted to listen to the Sunday morning blather shows, the shows that make Sunday morning, what used to be the Christian Sabbath into the period in which more lies are told to more people than any other time of the week.  I don't know if they still show Saturday morning cartoons, if they do that's probably less bad than what they put on, sponsored by some of our worst corporations, on Sunday mornings.

But as recently as the early 1970s, network TV had other things on, as well.  Those days went with the Reagan administration doing away with public service requirements, the Fairness Doctrine, equal time provisions, etc.  Which was a major step in the long term plan to turn the United States from a democracy into a corporate-fascist state.  Rabbi Heschel did a pretty good job of predicting what the results of such stuff already being promoted in the early 70s, the Nixon administration, would be and, back then, they would still put it on national TV.    My transcript begins after about 17:40 but it followed on a discussion of religious people being involved in political protests so here is a link from a few minutes before.

Carl Stern:  Is the wonder of it the torment that man has the problem solving machine that he is, that you think, as I detect is the essence of being, of living a human life

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:  Yes you see, and that is true.  But, you see, one of the great sins of contemporary education is to give the impression you can solve all problems.  Or there are no problems.

Actually, the greatness of man is that he faces problems.  I would judge a person by how many deep problems he's concerned with. 

Carl Stern:  Is not the quest of religion, though, to give one a sense of inner peace? 

Rabbi Heschel: You have to understand the meaning of inner peace.  Let me first give you first an example of a man who has no problems.  Let me give you a dramatic fictitious picture.  Here stands a man – and I'll tell you,  this is a man who has no problems – do you know why?   He's an idiot!  Cause a man has problems!  And the more complicated, the more… the richer he is,  the deeper his problems.  This is our distinction, to have problems, to face problems.  Life is a challenge, not just a satisfaction.  And the calamity of our times is to adduce life to pleasure only.  I'm not against pleasure.   But the greatness of life is the experience of facing a challenge rather than just having satisfaction.  I would be frightened if I were ruled by a person who is satisfied, to have the answers to everything.  

In a very deep sense religion has two things. First of all it's an answer to the ultimate problems of human existence and it also has another side,  it is a challenge to all answers.  It is living in this polarity of these two points.

I dare you to read that without thinking of the Trump regime and Donald Trump's declarations of his brilliance and the brilliance of those around him and the biggest problem he has ever addressed in his life, getting his next triumphal camera time and photo op.

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