Overcoming Overwhlem: Gevurah in Gevurah
[img_assist|nid=214|title=Lava as a Medium for Growth, Galapagos, 2007|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=500|height=376]
Tonight begins the 9th Day of the Omer (Arpil 28-29, 2008).
May that part of me that is broken in Gevurah in Gevurah be healed on this day.
Gevurah means strength, bravery, limitation, death (the ultimate limitation) and more, of course. In it's kabbalistic context it can also be the source of the rule-of-law (another name for this is din—pronounced "dean"). Out-of-control rule of law devolves to evil, which is also sourced in din.
Recently, I've heard remembrances of the events of 40 years ago, particularly the chaos at Columbia University and the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. I was 10 years old then, and my son is ten years old now. I was wondering, which is the scarier time in which to live?
I posed this question to my 81 year-old mother at the seder table and she thought that now was unquestionably the scarier time to live. Other talk got in the way and I didn't have time to question her further. As a regular to this blog, maybe she'll say more in a comment. But I've been thinking about this.
- the assassination of MLK
- the riots that followed the assassination of MLK
- the Vietnam War and college students protesting all over country
- the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, barely ten miles from my home
- the protests and police brutality at the Democratic Convention in Chicago
- the Cold War was in full swing
- global warming
- sub-prime mortgage meltdown
- rice shortage
- Iraq War
- Israeli-Palestinian impasse
- Iran looming
In the brief discussion I did have with my mom that night, in which I argued for 1968 as being scarier, I brought up the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which I saw on TV the same night it happened. That wasn't a strong memory for her. I, as a ten year-old had supported Eugene McCarthy and was quite interested in the outcome, and was staying up late with my dad. It was very scary.
I think the thing that is the scariest in 2008 is the rice shortage, and that only got into the news a couple weeks ago. In 1968 we had nuclear missiles ready to fire on the Soviet Union and theirs toward us. The purpose of those missiles was to assure total mutual annihilation should one side attack the other. In Vietnam, 16,592 U.S. service-people died, the greatest number of any year in the war. That's compared to the 4,000+ men and women who have died in all five years of the Iraq war.
But what is the point of this question, "Which time is scarier?" Is it to assess my level of guilt for bringing my children into a deeply flawed world? I think what I'm doing is fighting off my sense of overwhelm. Hopefully not to ignore the current problems we have, but not to panic about them either.
[img_assist|nid=216|title=Shai on Day 9 of Omer 2008|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=240|height=236]There is an interesting article from the March, 2007 Atlantic by Jonathan Raush called, A Convenient Truth. It's not naysaying global warming by any means. He simply suggests that panicking doesn't help. He says that Republicans need to face up to the fact that regulations work (his big example is The Clean Air Act) and to Democrats that promoting the idea of impending doom isn't the right tone. The tone he thinks would be more effective is more practical, "let's role up our sleeves and get some work done."
But do people need fear in order to move?
On this night of gevurah in gevurah, may I find new strength and commitment to help solve the problems of our world, in a way that hopefully doesn't necessitate scaring my kids.