blentry through all kinds of ways. It’s pretty interesting to see how many ways there are to enter a conversation these days. Except it’s not a conversation. It’s me, quoting other people, and blathering a bit at the end. The biggest hurdle is the conversation. How do we acknowledge the other? How do we politely demand that the other recognize us? And who are we? How do we define ourselves?
This goes for all kinds of hard conversations, for peace of nations, for shalom bayit. All politics are local, after all. I just received an excellent review by Barry Rubin of national naiveté, or is it universal? He points out the various elements that can and do go wrong in peace negotiations. In particular, I think this part at the end is important:
They expect to succeed brilliantly and it is easy to understand those aspects of American experience and contemporary ideology that leads to that miscalculation. Desiring to abandon the diplomatic practices of the past, thinking that America has used too much power (and has even been the world’s leading villain), believing that enemies can be won over, and similar ideas simply lead to disaster.
The question is whether they are so blinded by ideology that they don’t recognize why they are failing and do something different.
And then there’s this excellent piece about the new narcissism that’s so rampant that it’s not even a medical condition any more. I agree with her 100%. A choice quote follows:
Although some may rightfully make a case for this being an example of life imitating art, it may more sadly be a slice of art that has been drawn directly from modern life.
There are many who would say that somewhere in the 70s and 80s we began witnessing a trend of unrestrained entitlement and narcissism that has undermined not only our expectations (of each other, of government, of business, of life itself) but the natural order of family structure. This is not a commentary on who composes a family, but on who runs it — the child or the parent.
How are we raising our children, or are we just giving in/giving up? Recently, we (ISHI and I) had a conversation with someone who was also lamenting on the chasm of the peace process. He suggested that the way in, perhaps, is not through the lofty vision of shalom, as in the oseh shalom b’mromav, as in that’s really G-d’s work, but through the mitzvah of bein adam l’chavero, the mitzvot for us people-to-people. This means that we should be training people, like dogs, yes, perhaps, to behave appropriately with other people. Now basically, we’re saying that if you train someone when they’re young (chanoch l’na’ar al pi darko), they’ll keep that behavior going, later to come to understand the positive value of that behavior. But, of course, who’s doing the training? Who’s offering what behavior? How wide is the circle of chavero? So I guess, we’re really back to just starting the conversation and figuring out what is important to each of us.
We have to start with ourselves.
Oh, it’s 232 now.
P.S. As of December 28th, it’s up to 250. Let’s throw a party when it gets to 300, shall we?