By Rabbi D.B. Ganz, Special for USDR
False god #1, the U.N.
My late father looked at things in a very direct and no-nonsense way. Years back there was a large national bureaucracy that actively solicited money in our area. Their superb PR bowled people over, and many were convinced that that organization must be supported. Yet, I found it hard to discern what exactly it was that they did.
I once asked my dad what he thought about them. He answered: “They are an absolutely fantastic organization…that is, until you actually need them for something.”
He could have been speaking about the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. Here too, they are seemingly the world’s guarantor of peace and harmony…that is until they are actually needed to maintain peace and harmony.
Consider: In our own back yard, Venezuela is becoming a staunch ally of Communist Cuba. Nuclear armed North Korea is led by a veritable adolescent who menacingly test-fires rockets into the sea and literally feeds his political enemies alive to hungry dogs. China grows more militant and brazen, and it is now muscling and terrorizing its smaller neighbors. The so called Arab Spring led to many deaths but little personal freedom, and the bloodbath in Syria continues. To top it all off, Russia is now in the Crimean Peninsula.
Has anyone seen the United Nations? Has it made one iota of difference in any of these ominous developments?
False god #2, the Olympics.
The high-sounding talk of how the Olympics fosters world brotherhood is every bit as convincing as the rhetoric on behalf of the U.N. But is it true?
Though almost sacrilegious to say, I question the very premise that organized sports have the effect of ennobling character. A classical Jewish text I once studied made the point that while a physical contest may begin with each side merely striving to do the best possible, it often degenerates into a state of each side attempting to win by hampering the other. This could certainly be a prevailing attitude toward opponents in the highly politicized Olympic contests. This dynamic can instill destructive and vicious behavior patterns.
During the “bad old days” of the Iron Curtain, Communist countries too poor to feed their own people spent fortunes on training their Olympians. Athletically gifted children were seized from their families and schools and trained for years to compete. Those rulers evidently believed that their gold medals would attest to the superiority of Communism. For sure, they were not acting to promote world brotherhood.
The recent 2014 Winter Olympics was the grandest ever. Russia reportedly spent three times more than any country ever did preparing for the event, and a smiling President Putin was everywhere throughout the games. If any Olympics could inundate the planet with peace and love, it was this one. Yet, just a few days after the show ended, Putin launched what may be most brazen assault on world peace since the start of World War II, the invasion of Crimea.
The United Nations and the Olympics are thus false gods. Both promise humankind a great deal of benefit, but do no such thing.
And the “bad stuff” doesn’t end there.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that “Falsehoods beget falsehoods” (Midrash Tehilim 7:15). Accordingly, if one accepts that these two entities are of very little help to anyone, the false bombast that trumpets all of the good they do is a society-wide lie…And that causes more society-wide lying, which in turn, gives rise to even more of the same. For sure, huge falsehoods are now everywhere
Obamacare, which is likely the biggest domestic news story of the last year, was passed into law because the President assured the country that everyone would be able to retain their physicians and insurance plans. It is now all but certain that this was a premeditated lie. The missing Malaysian aircraft continues to capture the public’s interest – I think in part because many suspect that those who know the most about what happened are not being totally honest. Just today (3/26/14), IRS boss John Koskinen was asked in Congressional Committee to turn over all of Lois Lerner’s and other agency officials’ emails since 2009, and he replied that it would take two or three years to gather them. That has got to be a brazen lie.
This growing cycle of public falsehoods, to which the U.N. and the Olympics are major contributors, is tragic to behold. The implications for the future are frightening.