Like myself, I imagine that many of you are dizzied by the spin of “breaking news” descending on us daily regarding politicians, vaccinations and new scandalous revelations.
I thought it might be good if we take a moment and see if we can’t get a better, and perhaps broader perspective on what’s happening in the world today. Kind of “thinking about what we are thinking about.”
Imagine together with me for a moment that we are living in the 15th century, and someone asks, “What is the most important event or person of our time?” We have several obvious choices. We could point to the Hundred Years’ War, a long and bloody conflict that together with a plague killed half the population of France, three quarters of Normandy and a third of England. Or, we could say that Joan of Arc, the teenager who turned the tide of the war, is the most important person of the age.
What about the fall of Constantinople in 1453 that marked the final end of the Roman Empire? Or maybe Columbus “discovering” America, or the Inquisition, both in 1492?
Each of these events had a major impact on the world and changed history, but none of them would be correct. It turns out that the most significant event of the century was the work of a little-known tinkerer, Johannes Gutenberg, who invented moveable type, and introduced the printing press. Without that invention there would have been no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Enlightenment, and certainly no iPhone.
So as we are watching the events surrounding the White House, and listening to the arguments over a pandemic vaccine, a bit of perspective could be helpful. Looking at the broad strokes of history reminds us that what looms large today often dwindles in time.
It seems to me that treating tweets as tragedies, or triumphs, may be short-sighted. Considering the speed at which our lives are changing thanks to the digital revolution, who knows if right now in New Delhi, Tel Aviv or Kiev a teenager is working on an idea that will spark a new revolution and prove more consequential than any elected official or government policy.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we should not engage in the political, social or religious battles being waged in our communities and nations. Indeed, our aim here at Israel Today is to help you read the Bible in one hand and the news in the other – to understand the times, be inspired, and be engaged.
What I am suggesting is that we learn from the lessons of the past, even the distant past. Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, there was no daily press or internet. Twitter was called ‘papyrus.’ The actions of Pharaoh and his court reverberated throughout society, especially among the Israeli camp, and the average Egyptian rejoiced or trembled depending on what the ruler decided. Few could imagine what the near future held.
Surely most would have assumed that Pharaoh’s laws and decrees would echo down through the corridors of history, as indeed they have, but only because in a small basket, nestled in reeds, there was a baby who would be called Moses.
You just never know.
Shalom and thanks for being with us here at Israel Today.
David Lazarus, Editor