You don’t have to be a kabbalist to see the opportunities for finding significance in the upcoming new year: 2020.
As the symbol of clarity of vision, 2020 is the gold standard of seeing clearly, without distortions or blurs.
So may it be for all of us. Since 2020 is the solar calendar year, its significance is basically universal. And it is hard to look around the world and not see how badly clarity of vision is needed.
Let’s start here in Israel, mindful of the fact that while the Jewish year is not 2020, Israel is in many respects the microcosm of civilized living on planet Earth.
Our need for clarity is not so much aimed at our own deep-seated convictions and values, but rather our ability and willingness to convey and communicate those to the rest of the world. We have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to apologize for. Ours is a just, humane and intensely self-critical society focused on doing the right thing for as many as possible, even to our own detriment.
What we need to do better is to not look down or askance when we defend ourselves and our society, not worry what the ….. will think (You can supply the putative judge.), and not be daunted by the double standards and hypocrisy that seem to attach to others’ consideration of us.
There are always going to be those who hate us. They are our adversaries. But their animosity is clear and unambiguous, and we do a very good job staring them down and countering their moves to hurt and even destroy us. Against our adversaries we have shown and, I am confident, will continue to demonstrate great clarity and resolve.
It is with those who purport to be our friends, or at least say they are neutral, that we will need to sharpen our clarity. Whether it is the EU, individual European governments, or our own brethren, the “as a Jews” (“ As a Jew I can say that Israel is committing war crimes…”) that we need to understand that there is little if anything we can do, short of handing the keys to the Palestinians, that will gain their approval and support.
With great clarity, we need to see them for who they are, what they really represent, and to tell them that with friends like themselves, we have no need of enemies.
In America, clarity is very much to be desired, and sorely needed. Clarity in America is all about recall, recollection and an understanding of where the blessings of America came from. And what it will take to sustain them.
America needs to clear the air of smokey, delusional infatuations with clearly failed ideas such as socialism, and a blurry desire to make things better by demonizing the rich and the vehicle of their market system.
Americans need to stare clearly into the abyss of what will happen if they willingly abandon or denigrate the virtues of small “l” liberalism – free choice, free speech, individual integrity and respect for the diversity of thought, not just identity.
Without such clear awareness, America will stagger and drift towards dissension, and fracture. There needs to be clarity that the greatness of America (And yes, America has been and is still great.) has been earned and needs to be nurtured and cherished if it is to be maintained.
The America that De Tocqueville marveled at might be long gone, but the values and the sense of community and responsibility that he saw as the national bedrock, need to be rediscovered.
America has made many mistakes, but it has been able to overcome so many of those errors by looking forward with creative solutions, rather than wallowing in recriminations. It needs to look clearly ahead, rather than staring into a distorted rear view mirror.
Without clarity in 2020, America will increasingly resemble the place where clarity is most desperately required, and that of course is Europe.
Europe might actually be beyond the point where clarity can save the day.
The reason for is this Europe suffers not only from a lack of clarity, but also from a failure of resolve. In the face of a massive influx of those who are indifferent and often outright hostile to European values, European leaders have chosen not just to obfuscate, but to willingly ignore the signs of stress and dissolution.
Clarity is very much to be desired, desperately desired, but the fact is that even with it, a willingness to not change course, to not recognize that the pillars of European civilization are being eroded at a remarkably fast pace, poses existential dangers that are increasingly resembling a video of a train wreck filmed in super slow motion.
Everyone knows what’s going to happen; its just a question of when.
The United Kingdom
Well, in the spirit of year end optimism, let’s end by celebrating the great demonstration of clarity just shown by the British people. They clearly reiterated their desire to assert their national autonomy, and their unwillingness to be victims of the smoke and cloudy mirrors of failed ideas and odious anti-Semitism.
Let us hope that the clarity shown be the British proves to be compelling and contagious, crossing the Channel, crossing the Pond, and may they, alongside of the People of Israel, be the standard bearers for clarity in 2020.
Douglas Altabef is Chairman of the Board of Im Tirtzu and a Director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org