Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday meeting notes: making sense of the whole in light of its parts

We survived our weekly meeting yet again.
The usual contingent of hammer and sickle t-shirt wearing youth wandered by, raising their eyebrows but not causing trouble. (I'm not kidding, by the way; our city actually has quite a few people living in it who wear such apparel on a daily basis. They don't seem to appreciate the irony that they live in a system that lets them wear a shirt praising a totalitarian system that would never reciprocate this freedom...)

We talked of many things, learning much, seeing information in new lights, sometimes adjusting our previous ideas to make room for new perspectives and new data. The one lesson learned each week, without fail, is how much there remains to learn.
(If only college had been as interesting..!)

What stays with me week after week, is the notion that each of us has a piece of the truth, that didn't make sense when we only knew our own small slice, but when the puzzle piece gets placed alongside other pieces held by other people, the small parts start to look entirely different once they are placed in light of a greater whole. Everybody can make a contribution, because everyone has at least one such piece to add to the whole.

Dag and I both showed up a bit early tonight, our talk quickly turning to Israel, and that embattled nation's heroic struggle for survival throughout the twentieth century. I received affirmation, yet again, of why there is so much to admire and learn from the lessons of that country's history. Dag mentioned how at a critical point in the '47 war, when Jerusalem looked lost, one person's knowledge of ancient history suggested an alternative road that could be taken in order to bypass the certain death befallling any armored convoy traveling along the main highway to the strategic city. This alternative road had been built two thousand years before, by Jews enslaved after their unsuccessful rebellion against Rome. And now that road, created as punishment, was to lead to salvation.
The road was located, used, and the result was a city saved, and a nation reborn.
A piece of history, studied by a scholar out of respect for the past, ends up ensuring an entire nation's future.

Who knows what each individual's contribution may bring? Who can say that any act is an act in vain, who can really claim such foreknowledge? Who knows where the missing piece of a puzzle is being kept, in whose memories of the past may lie a key to the future?
Never say that one person acting on his beliefs cannot make a difference, or that a small group of people acting for a common purpose are insufficient to make a difference.
History is made by such individuals, acting alone or in small groups, as much as it is by any masses of men.
Just look at Israel.

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