Who’s afraid of 2013?

500 × 494 - Peace Award - Post 1 Give 5. REMEMBER TO AWARD 5 cc: google images
“Lack of imagination is one of the reasons for end-of-the-world prophecies.”

As the end of the year approaches, more and more people speak of the end of the world, but not of the beginning. Where is the hope? How can we create a vision for the rest of our lives? 

For a while, the entire world was preoccupied with the question of whether the world would end this year. Children and adults alike engaged in interpretations of the Mayan prophecy. All predictions about the world ending were proved wrong, so this is the best time to mention that hope is not lost. It will be 2013 soon, and our wonderful planet continues to spin.

A century ago, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, hope flooded the world, due to many scientific discoveries. People believed that we would create a new and spectacular planet. Books were written predicting science’s ability to end the stasis and stagnation in place since the Middle Ages. Writer Jules Verne, through his science fiction novels, tried to imagine how science could feed the masses and alleviate their distress. Walt Whitman, one of the great American poets of the 19th century, who practically invented modern free verse poetry, viewed the new era as a harbinger of democracy and human freedom. Art reached new heights of creativity, from Italian cubist futurism to surrealism. Everyone discussed mankind’s great promise. Our imaginations went wild and tried to conceive of a new society of mass transport, industry and big cities.

Two world wars reduced that hope. It was let down from the flagpole and later forgotten. As the 21st century was born, we were not envisioning a renewed spirit. On the contrary, the world was buried in visions of its end and fears of mass suicide. Anxiety took hold of our children’s faces.

In our era, what connects the world’s population is the Internet. New technologies continuously appear, becoming more advanced every day. We have the ability to transfer data from one end of the world to another. Powerful connections and the ability to share through social networks have become central to our lives. The universal vision has become practical, but it has not yet been realized as we form an image of the future.

Lack of imagination is one of the reasons for end-of-the-world prophecies. Our imagination is both flawed and limited. It is so difficult for us to imagine a future. How do we create a new fantasy? What are the components necessary for a daring, progressive, forward thinking and avant-garde ideal for us to hold on to into the future? For any person who envisions possibilities for the brain, mind and human consciousness, these are pertinent questions.

One appropriate solution would be to create a broader horizon for our imaginations so we can construct a suitable vision. We need to have something to look forward to in the future, an anchor of sorts. This vision must contain all of our needs and desires in times as crazy as these. If humanity could agree on a vision, perhaps our children wouldn’t be busy learning dubious interpretations of history written long ago. A true vision would help us see the future more clearly.

This new imagination could be the beginning of a world with prophecies about the future, instead of the end of the world. But where are these prophets and prophetesses? And why don’t they occupy a more central place in our lives? Why don’t they have a loud shofar with which to sound their prayers for the future? Why is the new prophecy in the second decade of this millennium unable to excite the masses?

This article was first published on Israel Hayom

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Winter wishes

“Rain fever” usually arrives in Israel along with the holiday season in September. This year, though, the rains started later, and with them comes a particular local syndrome that is something more than interest in the usual transition of seasons.

Weather forecasters are about to be tested carefully. Israelis treat them just as seriously as they treated the military analysts and government officials who didn’t expect the Yom Kippur War. If forecasters promise a big rain but only a little falls, demands will fly for their dismissal or, at the very least, they will be ridiculed endlessly. The same thing happens if forecasters say there will only be a drizzle and we get a deluge of hail, snow and storm winds instead.

Imagination plays a big role in our passion for the winter. If forecasters promise a big storm, rest assured that entertainment programs, newscasts, newspapers and blogs all write about it, seemingly affecting the national mood. People gather in their homes and consume more products. More than anything, they are ready to take to their keyboards and Internet to catch the guilty party who promised them a certain weather pattern and didn’t come through. Who should be blamed for predicting a storm that didn’t happen and where is the snow promised to the children of Jerusalem?

An invisible tension exists between total faith in science and the cultural need to talk about those drops of rain. Rain is at the forefront of our tribal consciousness. Talking about winter, as part of our belief in predicting the future, unites us. Even when we are disappointed with the random and arbitrary winter discourse, we can still be angry together and laugh when the weatherman apologizes, saying that even his own laundry was hanging outside and got wet.

The facade of winter, especially the endless talk of rain, is rooted in our primal fear of the desert. Suddenly everyone has something to say if the rain does come. It becomes a curse and a blessing. If there is no rain, we will be barraged again with demands to conserve water. No one remembers that Israel is deep in the process of desalination.

The water will make the desert bloom, even if we aren’t standing in the desert, and even if the water doesn’t actually have much to do with the rain. During the summer, everyone forgets the rain and goes to the beach. Only when fall leaves begin to change color and drop from the trees does the talk of early rain return to the public discourse. Some still deny their preoccupation with the rain, at least while they are at the beach with grains of sand stuck in their hair. But they are quick to jump into the Israeli conversation grinder the moment the rain arrives.

Excessive rain will also reveal just how exposed the homefront really is. Israelis also have a deep desire to drive the desert back to the equator and stop it from gnawing away at the country. Desert makes up about 70 percent of Jordan, but Israel refuses to allow its coastline to be counted as a desert in Middle East statistics.

It is easy to make the rain the center of our lives, in the absence of more worthy issues — and even if there such issues, it sometimes seems worthwhile to escape from them into the rain. The rain has always been here and always will be; but we continue to wait for it all the time.

This article was first published on israel hayom

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Hurricane Sandy flooding Haiti once again and the need to raise houses up: Disaster Housing Alternatives By Tjebbe van Tijen / Imaginary Museum Projects | cc: flickr
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