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It’s not too late to build a better world

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When I was a young boy, the Beatles burst onto the world stage and challenged and changed the lives of so many. Their lyrics became part of our lives and still resonate with vigor and energy. Can you imagine the world without John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, and maybe you still want to cry out love is all we need? Or perhaps in these dreadful times all you want to shout out is “It’s a hard day’s night”. Hopefully we’re getting by with a little help from our friends…

Which one of the songs speaks most to you during these times? Well, I know one that spoke to me so loudly and profoundly on that most loud and profound of our days, Yom Kippur. It’s Eleanor Rigby:
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

The world is awash with lonely people and loneliness, solitariness and solitude are eroding the human spirit. It’s killing communities it’s damaging our Jewish community and it’s a threat to our Jewish continuity. Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam calls it the bowling alone phenomenon. Once young people used to engage in fraternities,organisations and societies – be it the Masons, Rotary, Bnai Brith, Boy Scouts or bowling clubs. Now these organisations are struggling and people prefer to go it alone, do it alone, bowl alone. We are losing what he calls social capital, that’s the shared interactions, social support and fellowship. The very elements that made societies strong, created community and held families together.

Jonathan Sacks in his final and memorable book called Morality said we are replacing ‘we’ with ‘me’; ‘us’ with ‘I’. Individuality and the individual spirit are things we value as Jews and are pretty good at it; we are aggressively ambitious and tiresomely singular. But then, we also value the power of two, of me and you and our collective plural strength is legendary. The Afrikaners, for all their sins, had a wonderful expression “Eendracht maak macht-In unity is strength’’, in togetherness is........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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