Obligatory YouTube — The Harptones “OOH Wee Baby”:
I was reading NLinStPaul’s essay, Full-Blooded Americans and I read the linked article as well as the comments in the article, most of which agreed that heritage and culture and background were very important.
Reminded me of an old Jewish story from A Treasury of Jewish Folklore edited by Nathan Ausubel:
Usually the orthodox rabbis of Europe boasted distinguished rabbinical geneaologies, but Rabbi Yechiel of Ostrowce was an exception. He was the son of a simple baker and he inherited some of the forthright qualities of a man of the people.
Once, when a number of rabbis had gathered at some festivity, each began to boast of his eminent rabbinical ancestors. When Rabbi Yechiel’s turn came, he replied gravely, “In my family, I’m the first eminent ancestor.”
His colleagues were shocked by this piece of impudence, but said nothing. Immediately after, the rabbis began to expound Torah. Each one was asked to hold forth on a text culled from the sayings of one of his distinguished rabbinical ancestors.
One after another the rabbis delivered their learned dissertations. At last it came time for Rabbi Yechiel to say something. He arose and said, “My masters, my father was a baker. He taught me that only fresh bread was appetizing and that I must avoid the stale. This can also apply to learning.”
And with that Rabbi Yechiel sat down.
Last week I wrote about smashing idols.
Full-blooded Americans. Aristocrats. The Rich. The Famous. I guess here I would add “The Familiar.”
It sometimes happens that as we grow older, everthing seems to change so quickly and it can be very frightening.
So some of us decide to ignore all that and become sort of set in stone.
It is immensely comfortable to surround ourselves with familiar things and familiar thoughts and feelings.
I think that’s a rather formidable idol to smash. Because although we all know the only thing you can count on in life is change, most of us don’t like change, and many of us fear it.
That’s ok, that’s understandable.
What causes problems, though, is when we make The Familiar our idol and anything that challenges The Familiar becomes something to fight against and destroy.
America is facing great changes. Some of them are very scary indeed. And some of the challenges we face are very new in our human history, given the level of technology and knowledge we have attained.
I won’t lie. I’m not some brave heroine who is not afraid of the future. I get very scared at times and downright terrified now and then.
But I do believe that if we’re going to solve the problems we now face, it’s far more important that the thinking we support be fresh and sensible than giving a higher value to the pedigree of who is doing the thinking. It’s been said here and on other blogs many times … it’s the issues, not the personalities.
Happy Friday to all. In honor of The Familiar I shall post an another old doo-wop tune I happen to like … the Cookies singing “Don’t Say Nothing Bad (about my baby)” (the Cookies are also known for singing backup for Ray Charles as the Raelettes, if anyone is interested).