Peace Or War

I like this saying by Shimon Peres, you can choose:

Either peace and pay the price or war and take the risk.


It’s very smart.


Peace isn’t free…there is a price (maybe a large one) to pay for it. 


War is also not free…there is a risk of what you will win or lose. 


These are very serious life calculations with consequences that are far reaching. 


Peace or war and if you are wrong what will it cost and how will you achieve security? 😉


(Credit photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Heart of The Matter

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Heartfelt Challenges.”  


It’s about some of my reflection on having a heart condition. 

Over time, what I’ve learned is that what is really important in life is not money, honor, power, or pleasure, but the simple things of family, community, faith, caring, giving, and generally trying your best in all circumstances. Every day is a chance to keep learning. 


Praying and hoping that please G-d everything goes well with the upcoming procedure. 

(Source Photo: Andy  Blumenthal)

Shabbat Risk

I haven’t played Risk in years. 


But my daughter and her husband came for Shabbat, and we sat down and had a great game. 


We distributed the countries. 


Placed our enemies. 


And went to battle, army to army. 


By the time it was over, my daughter had conquered Europe, Africa, and North and South Americas.


It was so good to see her taking country after country from my son-in-law and me. 


My son-in-law joked that he had underestimated her. 


We had a good laugh and nice time just sitting down at the kitchen table and playing a board game. 


Afterward, we went down to the pool and relaxed in the deck chairs and then my wife and I took off our shoes and walked in the grass in the garden. 


I laid down on the beautiful green lawn and looked up watching some planes jet over in the clear blue sky. 


It was absolutely beautiful weather and a marvelous day today with my family. 


In the morning we went to Synagogue and the sit-down kiddush with our friends.


I am grateful to G-d for all this and for the peace of the wonderful Shabbat! 


Also, what more can a man ask for Father’s Day. 😉

Is This The Way It’s Supposed To Work?

Is This The Way It's Supposed To Work?

As talk and warnings escalate about a potential government shutdown next week (not that long since the last time this happened a couple of years ago), one cannot help wonder is this the way government is supposed to work?

The partisanship and fighting has gotten so that either nothing significant gets done or get’s done by just one party leaving the other fuming.

The fight over healthcare reform pushed through for better or for worse has come back to haunt the Hill. Aside from a lot of talk about exchanges, I haven’t found many people that even really understand the changes or whether it actually benefits them or not.

The continuing Fed stimulus that many anticipated was going to start tapering off, but hasn’t, has left many concerned whether there is another huge economic bubble building and what will happen to stocks, housing, and jobs when the Fed finally does pull back.

The Sequestration which was never supposed to actually take effect, but was to replaced with more surgical budget cuts, continues to leave the nation vulnerable in terms of potential budget shortfalls for areas of national priority (e.g. defense and so on) and still leaves a mounting national debt (albeit growing at a slower pace).

The seesaw between the threat of military intervention and the potential for diplomatic solutions with Syria and Iran on no less than weapons of mass destruction have us asking whether these countries are serious, stalling, and really willing to give them all up or just buy time in their efforts to get over the finish line of proliferation, hiding, and burying the stockpiles.

Somehow we seem to be fighting each other more than we are tackling the issues.

Are we really talking with each other, listening with intent to understand, and seeing what is at stake?

We are playing brinkmanship on critical issues of national security that may leave us holding the toilet paper and plunger as we swirl around the bowl ready for the royal flush. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Existential Threats–Real or Imagined

Should we worry about something that hasn’t happened to us yet?

Wired Magazine (Sept. 2012) has an interesting article called Apocalypse Not.

Its thesis is that “people freak out over end-of-the world scenarios” and they should know better because despite all the fear and predictions of catastrophe, nothing ever really happens.
It categorizes the doomsday cataclysms into 4 types:
1) Chemicals–these come form things like pesticides (like DDT), smoking, and CFCs, and result in air pollution, acid rain, ozone depletion, and climate change.
2) Disease–recent fears of pandemics were associated with bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, ebola, and mad cow disease.
3) People–we can cause our own hell through population explosion and famine and although it didn’t mention this, I would assume the brutality and wars that can wipe entire races out.
4) Resources–Peak oil theory, metals and minerals, and other resource constraints have been causes of consternation leading us to look for alternative energy sources and even recently consider mining minerals on asteroids.
The article goes so far as to poke fun at those who are concerned about these things even stating that “The one thing we’ll never run out of is imbeciles.”
Wired does acknowledge that while “over the past half-century, none of our threatened eco-pocalypses have played out as predicted. Some came partly true; some were averted by action; [and still] some were wholly chimerical.”
What the author, Matt Ridley, has missed here in his logic are a few main things:
Smaller things add to big things–While each individual issue may not have reached the catastrophic tipping point been yet, these issues can certainly progress and even more so, in the aggregate, pose dangerous situations that we may be unable to contain. So you can choose to live with blinders on for today, but the consequences of our choices are inescapable and may only be around the next bend.
Recognizing the future–just because things like death and final judgement haven’t happened to us yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t in store for us in the future. This sort of reminds me of this Jewish joke that no one leaves this world alive.
Destructive powers are multiplying–many destructive forces were traditionally local events, but are now becoming existential threats to whole civilizations. For example, how many people globally can we kill with weaponized pathogens and how many times over now are we able to destroy the world with our thermonuclear stockpile.
Learn from the past–Apocalypses and terrible events have already befallen humankind, whether the bubonic plague in the middle ages, the destruction of the ice age, the flood in biblical times, and even more recently the Holocaust and the World Wars in the 20th century.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad things that can happen to people–individuals or many people–and if we are not conscious of the things we are doing, their potential impacts, and generally act smart and ethical, then bad things can and will most-definitely happen.
Wired ends by saying that things like policy, technology, and innovation can solve the day. However, while these can surely help and we must always try our best to have a positive impact, some things are also out of our control–they are in G-d hands.
Finally, while not every event is an existential threat, some surely can be–and whether it’s the impact of an asteroid, the death toll from the next horrible plague, natural disaster, cyberwar, or weapon of mass destruction, or even possibly when aliens finally come knocking at your door, it would be awfully stupid to think that bad things can’t happen.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to tanakawho)