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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘quiet’

The Noise that Drowns Out all Peace

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Followers of the Passover story can rightly wonder why frogs were such a terrible plague. Was God really showing His power to the Egyptians by sending against them an army of reptiles? Would the nation that would eventually produced Cleopatra, who purportedly killed herself by grabbing a poisonous snake, really have cared?

But the true plague of the frogs was how the din of their incessant ribbetting robbed the Egyptians of all peace. We who inhabit the modern world have a unique understanding of the utter agony represented by a world that is never silent.

When the United States invaded Panama in 1989 to oust General Manuel Noriega, he took refuge in the Vatican Embassy. The United States Army brought huge loudspeakers and blasted AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” in order to drive him out of his refuge, a tactic that was also employed by the FBI at Waco.

Forty years ago John Lennon made the observation that when he grew up what was always heard in the background of homes was the soothing crackling of a fire, only to be replaced by the incessant noise of televisions that are always blaring in the background.

That noise has actually so much closer today with ear buds that pumps music directly into our eardrums. The net result is that we are rarely ever afforded any peace.

Even today harsh interrogations methods against terrorists involves keeping them up for days by constantly blasting music which drives them to the bring of insanity. Many argue that this is a form of torture.

The inability to ever shut out noise is a plague. But beyond the pain caused by the utter lack of peace there is the further consideration of the drowning out of the inner voice of conscience.

Each of us is immersed in a culture that throws various voices at us. Hollywood and the fashion industry hits us with the aesthetic voice, telling us that what most matters is beauty. Best to spend our time in front of a mirror and at a gym. Wall Street and Madison avenue hits us with the monetary voice which tells us that the most important thing in life is money and affording the material objects that will bring us pleasure. Washington and politics hits us with the power voice which tells us that the most significant thing in life is acquiring dominion over others. And the NFL and NBA hits us with the physical voice which whispers that life has meaning through great athleticism. We should be spending our time on the sports fields.

But beneath all these noises which are so central to the fabric of modern life and its aspirations is the inner voice of conscience which whispers to us that we are born for lives of compassion and goodness. It’s nice to be pretty. But it’s even nicer to be nice. It’s wondrous to be sporty and adventurous. But even more spectacular is to teach our child how to throw a spiral and catch a ball. Through doing so we grant our children a feeling of significance. It’s a blessing to be wealthy. But even more important is to live lives of charity and humility where we make others feel that they matter too.

There is no human being that is born without that voice and to the extent that it is lost it is because it is drown out by all the other voices that surround us.

The Egyptians, like all human beings, had an innate sense of morality and fair play. So how could they have enslaved a helpless people? Because the soul’s voice of fraternity and brotherhood was drown out by Pharaoh’s voice of dominion and power. As the Bible related, “Look, he said to his people, the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” The Egyptians allowed the foreign voice of the will to power to override the voice of sensitivity of compassion. In this sense, the racket of the frogs-plague was an external manifestation of what had already occurred. The Egyptians could no longer hear the inner song of their own souls. They could only hear the clamor of the artificial, external voice that slowly erodes our spiritual peace.

Settling Back to Quiet

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

When Elie’s unit was moved south and put in position near Gaza before the Cast Lead War in 2008, I experienced about a month of unbelievable fear and all sorts of other things (I won’t even attempt to summarize it all here, but it’s available if you want to click back to late December 2008/January 2009). I also, amazingly enough, had a blog whose readership soared into the tens of thousands a day. It is, on the one hand, the dream of many bloggers (and the reality of a select few). The only problem was – I was too distracted to “enjoy” it.

And with all those visitors, I had so many comments, so many. A lot of those that visited came to leave these really nasty comments. More though, left comments  that were so incredibly supportive – touching beyond anything I could express. There were the veterans who knew war and assured me that Elie would be fine, that he’d cope, and overcome and they were so right. There were the mothers of other soldiers (and the fathers too) who sent their love and prayers and told me to be strong…and I was trying to do that so hard. There was one woman from Montana who told me it was 3:00 in the morning and she woke worrying about Elie and me and I cried in gratitude and thought God would protect Elie just on the basis of all these amazing people.

And for some reason, I read the ones that were so nasty too. The ones that wished such horrible things on my country, my family, my son and these made me angry…and sometimes they made me cry too. Some I deleted, some I put through. Some I turned into posts called Comments on Comments and responded.

When the war was over and Elie was back home, a few weeks went by and I noticed my blog was back to its normal daily rates – nope, not 10,000+ a day, but just fine for me. I was back with my friends, back to normal. And I was happy.

A few weeks ago, Israel was again being shelled by hundreds of rockets – sometimes in a single day, certainly within each week. We moved to the edges of war – Israel and our sons, my son. Our air force flew into action hitting over 1,500 important MILITARY targets that needed to be taken out. Elie was there – again and I balanced my fears with work, blogging, and worrying about Elie’s wife (who was amazing and comforting and worrying about me).

Once again, my blog stats showed a surge – not to the level of tens of thousands but still, a really hefty increase per day. I got a few nasty comments, not nearly as many as last time and not nearly as vicious.

And then the cease-fire was declared and Elie came home…for a while, I would hear a sound and stop to listen to see if it was a siren; I would check the news to see if a rocket had been fired. Friends in the south told me how their children were having a hard time getting back to school. They were afraid.

I’ve stopped hearing sirens in my head; stopped thinking that a revved up motorcycle is the beginning of a siren. I’ve stopped checking some news sites; check others less often. And my blog stats have gone down – still above normal, but a nice above normal.

We’re settling back to the flat of the roller coaster – Israel and I, settling back to quiet. I don’t know how long it will last; you can go crazy if you even attempt to calculate it. Oh, I’m sure there will be more rockets (hey, there was even one on Sunday that was fired, but it fell short and was mostly ignored with the hope that it was nothing more than one idiot with a missile and a match…do you use a match to launch a missile…probably not). I have little doubt that there will be another war with Gaza, maybe even one with Lebanon. With the upheaval in Syria – at some point they are going to realize attacking Israel might save them and then, again, we might be facing war.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/settling-back-to-quiet/2012/12/26/

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