I was struck by this contrast in The State this morning…
First, from a David Brooks column:
Widening the lens, we’re living in an era with the greatest reduction in global poverty ever — across Asia and Africa. We’re seeing a decline in civil wars and warfare generally.
The scope of the problems we face are way below historic averages. We face nothing like the slavery fights of the 1860s, the brutality of child labor and industrialization of the 1880s, or a civilization-threatening crisis like World War I, the Great Depression, World War II or the Cold War. Even next to the 1970s — which witnessed Watergate, stagflation, social decay and rising crime — we are living in a golden age.
Our global enemies are not exactly impressive. We have the Islamic State, a bunch of barbarians riding around in pickup trucks, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a lone thug sitting atop a failing regime. These folks thrive only because of the failed states and vacuums around them.
I mention all of this because of the despondency and passivity and talk of unraveling that floated around this summer. Now there is a mood of pessimism and fatalism evident in the polls and in conversations — a lack of faith in ourselves.
It’s important in times like these to step back and get clarity….
Then, from this feature from Carolyn Click about Rosh Hashanah starting tonight:
Jews mark the beginning of the High Holy Days at sundown Wednesday with the observance of Rosh Hoshanah, entering a time of personal reflection that comes amid a backdrop of fighting in the Arab world, a deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa and other world calamities.
“I think everyone is feeling the drumbeat of war in their ear,” Rabbi Jonathan Case, leader of Beth Shalom Synagogue on Trenholm Road, said Tuesday.
Older members of the congregation, those who lived through World War II, “feel that they have been in this place before,” Case said, “that the world seems to have gone awry. There is no doubt that people are scared.”…
Maybe Brooks is being a bit of a Pollyanna, but it would seem the Rabbi — or the people he’s referring to — are getting a tad overwrought. WWII? The Holocaust? Compared to now?
I think maybe Brooks and some of the folks at Beth Shalom should get together and compare notes…