Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The meaning of history and the purpose behind our struggles

David Gerlernter looks at two modern Jewish intellectuals, and comes out swinging in favor of meaning, faith and bravery. The two he examines are Woody Allen, the uber-Liberal, who posits that the history of the world is just an endless pendulum, with people killing when they are able. Or, as Allen said in a Der Spiegel interview:

"The history of the world," he told Der Spiegel, "is like: He kills me, I kill him." (Of course he was speaking casually, off the cuff.) "Only with different cosmetics and different castings: So in 2001, some fanatics killed some Americans, and now some Americans are killing some Iraqis. And in my childhood, some Nazis killed Jews. And now, some Jewish people and some Palestinians are killing each other. Political questions, if you go back thousands of years, are ephemeral, not important. History is the same thing over and over again."
Nothing has meaning, nothing matters, nothing is worth caring about, fighting for, or believing in. How different this is from Sharansky's views, which have helped shape Pres. Bush's foreign policies. To Sharansky, freedom is meaning:
Sharansky knows that as language expresses human thoughts, history expresses deeds — which (like thoughts) are sometimes nonsense and sometimes meaningful. The collapse of the Soviet Union, for example, meant that innumerable freedom lovers had struggled and suffered and won. Sharansky himself spent more than 10 years in Soviet prisons — because he was a dissident, had worked with other dissidents and yearned to go to Israel. Nordlinger writes about Sharansky's imprisonment: "More than 400 of those days were spent in punishment cells; more than 200 were spent on hunger strikes. His refusal to concede anything to the Soviets was almost superhuman." Sharansky was prepared to die for freedom. He saw fellow dissidents die. Don't tell him that all killing is the same, that history is going nowhere. He rode history's bucking bronco from a Soviet cell to a Jewish state that is strong enough (physically, spiritually) to fight off insatiable enemies in war after war and never surrender.
Gerlernter sides completely with Sharansky's world view, and closes his column with Sharansky's prison prayer. I'll end with it too:
As a Soviet prisoner he invented a prayer: "Grant me the strength, the power, the intelligence and the patience to leave this jail and reach the land of Israel in an honest and worthy way." The prayer was granted. For Sharansky, his personal history means nothing less than that G-d is listening.