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Occupation magazine - Commentary
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No longer optimistic
By Amnon Shamosh
Ynet / Israel Opinion
21 Dec 2010
Iíve been an optimist for 80 years. Yet then my eyes opened and I realized that an optimist is one who knows how to lie to himself, consistently and successfully. Upon celebrating my 80th birthday, my shift to the world of truth had been completed.
This shift got underway a few years earlier, with the feeling that Iím a guest in this century, which is awash with technologies that are beyond my comprehension. I sought to disconnect from this world, the world of lies, and reach the world of truth Ė the midway point en route to the next world. I hope it will be a long way.
This world, which Iím now departing with confident steps, is premised on lies. Studies show that the average person lies three times a day. There is no person who does not lie to himself. The optimist does it methodically and regularly. He tells himself that fate, or God, is by his side. That heís lucky. That the future is better than the past, which was replete with suffering, and from the present, which is replete with disappointments.
It is easy for a person to lie to himself, as he had been accustomed to do so since childhood. Researchers say that the earlier a child starts to lie, the greater his chances to succeed in life. Mothers who inadvertently tell their children ďdonít lie to mom and dadĒ understand that they are giving them permission to lie to others. Yet itís a good thing mothers are smart enough not tell their child ďnever lie to yourself,Ē as he will not be able to do it, or else, grow up to be a hopeless pessimist.
The optimist, who always lies to himself, stresses the good things that happen to him and erases the bad ones, thereby overcoming the difficulties inherent in life. There is nothing wrong with that. It is even a recommended way of coping with life and death, and whatís in between.
After departing the world of lies and entering the world of truth, I discovered that optimism indeed helped me greatly in life, yet my eyes, which now no longer saw reality, were opened up to see the future. I feel a privilege and duty to tell the next generations, the young people, what is about to happen in this ravenous, made century, so that they can contend with whatís to come.
My stomach turns
It is a century that opened with the Twin Towers disaster, the harbinger of brutal, undefeated terrorism. A century where modern, greedy man pushed nature off its course and equilibrium. A century that continues its previous one in terms of national, ethnic, ideological, religious, and tribal divisions.
My stomach turns in the face of the frightening yet realistic thoughts that my lost optimism prompts at night and during the day: The Carmel blaze, the rains pouring from above, Israelís status in the world (200 states, and none of them recognizes Jerusalem as our capital), the way we kicked our greatest ally, the lost chances for peace and tranquility. The worst of all is the certain march towards four states for two quarreling and crumbling peoples.
In our small, beautiful and crowded land we may see the emergence of four national entities that hate and provoke each other: A nationalistic, religious Palestine ruled by Hamas in Gaza, a secular, democratic Palestinian in the West Bank, a secular, democratic Israel whose laws are manmade and whose rabbis remain in the synagogues, and a nationalistic, radical religious state whose supreme authority is God and the rabbis who rule everything.
I wish to be proven wrong, yet it would be better to prepare for the negative reality that approaches us. The process started to snowball in the wake of the three bullets fired into Rabinís back and it keeps intensifying. Many nations have already experienced self-destruction processes, and perhaps what happened upon King Solomonís death is better than what happened at the end of the Second Temple era.
I hope that we are wise enough to stop before we reach the abyss, either from above, by a leadership that moderates, unites, and spreads light at the end of the tunnel, or from below, through the avoidance of brotherly hatred and xenophobia.
Iíve lost my optimism, yet Iím no pessimist. Not all hope is lost. I recommend that each one of us learn to lie to ourselves, and minimize the lies we tell others; that we eradicate lawbreakers, moderate the radicals, and bravely move towards realizing the two-state solution.
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