Puttin’ On Shabbat – Shalom Rav / Blue Skies
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
We’re marching in the streets. We’re protesting on national issues. We’re making an impact. But, are we ignoring ominous winds blowing from the Sea of Japan? What’s the point of all our protesting if two leaders of nations are facing off in a no-win display of might over right and without regard for millions of lives at risk?
The current White House has caused the left and right to advocate for and invest in their respective causes with extraordinary passion. In the last 100 days, many wins and losses have been recorded depending on which side you support; but, with our heads down and focused only on national issues we’ve become dangerously distracted from the international havoc that’s brewing across the oceans.
Everybody knows that North Korea is a dangerous nation. Like Texas fire ants, it’s a horrific nest of trouble if it’s disrupted or provoked. Left alone, it’s avoided at all costs even while less disruptive attempts are made to dislodge it from its place. Kim Jong-Un is the quintessential queen of the fire ant nest that is North Korea. The analogy is apt, but it trivializes the real human costs that are at stake in what could be a nuclear war across Asia. With a trigger in the hand of Kim Jong-Un and another trigger in the hand of Donald Trump, there are few options for the rest of us who see this “fire ant hill” as something we are increasingly unable to avoid stepping in.
Though we might feel safe because we’re oceans away, it’s a false sense of security. War between North Korea and the U.S. will devastate surrounding nations, and those that aren’t completely disabled will be vulnerable to looters of the war’s aftermath. No one wants Kim Jong-Un to last another day, but it’s the plunders of war that other nations and their leaders seek: land, boundaries, ports, energy, etc. Is it worth 100,000 soldiers’ lives? Is it worth 1,000,000 civilian lives?
Our protests on U.S. streets are having an impact. We’ll never forego our duty to demonstrate our Constitutional right to protest. But, our Constitution has at its source an obligation for all humanity to know the liberties that took root in early and fertile American soil. Wars were fought to achieve it and maintain it. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and memorialized over it. But, what we should have learned from those wars is that while there will likely always be despots who threaten us, some can be contained and limited in their power. It’s time to turn some of our well-meaning energy we’ve used to demonstrate on the streets in America, to the menacing threat that is looming across the world in the Sea of Japan. We can’t reach Kim Jong-Un, but we can reach Donald Trump. Let’s protest against the unnecessary option of war and potentially nuclear armaments to remove a despot, an acknowledged annoyance and blight on the world, but whose presence is really nothing more than that until he’s provoked.
On the Jewish calendar, we recently observed Passover. Moving from Egypt to the Promised Land, the hope of every subsequent generation has been to depart its own bondage for hope it finds in a Promised Land of liberty, freedom and peace. God delivered the Israelites. Though the burdens of the North Koreans must be great, their redemption shouldn’t come at the hands of a madman with his finger on the trigger of humanity’s most destructive weapons against humanity. Kim Jung-Un and Donald Trump are not gods who can redeem. They are human beings who must temper their passions for the sake of millions of God’s creations.