I hate dating.
There. I have finally said it. Dating sucks. A lot. As a religious girl, I find the dating system to be completely counter productive. You are expected to sit down with a complete stranger for a few hours with the sole purpose of figuring out whether or not you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with that someone.
What a stupid concept. There is no chance to get to know the other person without that little Jewish mother sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear; “You aren’t getting any younger you know. Maybe you should just settle. Does it really matter that he spits when he talks? He has a good job and a nice car!” There is no chance for friendship with that kind of pressure seeping in at the first minute and in my opinion, friendship is the very core of a good relationship.
I have been on my fair share of awful first dates. You speak to a guy for a little while, you arrange to meet, you get ready, maybe even a little excited; maybe this time it will be different. And then… it’s not. It’s the same nonsense every time. The stories I have range from boring to straight up bizarre but they usually tend to end in disappointment and a long walk home filled with contemplation and questions about the future.
This week I went on a date that has certainly made it pretty high up on my top-10-strangest-dates-of-all-time list. After talking for a couple of days, we agreed to meet up and see how things would progress from there. He came to meet me outside of the Knesset after I finished at a conference hosted by the always-fabulous Tzipi Hotovely. We sat down in the park and after of a few minutes of awkward conversation he looked me straight in the face and without a second’s hesitation he very directly asked me if he could try on my shoes.
Yeah. That happened.
Mind you, I understand the desire to wear those shoes. They are freaking fabulous shoes. But still.
“Are you serious?”
“No. Really no.”
“Well, I’m disappointed but ok….could I at least ask you the size?”
“Oh never mind.”
After overcoming the daze brought on by that lovely gem of a conversation, we segued into a discussion on the one thing that everyone in this country has in common these days: War. After sharing the classic ‘where were you when the siren went off’ stories, we talked for a bit about the death of the incredible lone soldiers who came over to Israel to serve their country as volunteers and gave their lives in the name of Zionism and a love for their fellow Jews. This strange date of mine quietly began to sing “Imagine” by John Lenon under his breath. Classic rookie mistake; anyone who knows anything at all about who I am and what I hold near and dear to my heart knows just how much I hate that song.
I am not sure what it is about war that makes the most intelligent people shrivel up and regress to a place of appeasement and weakness. Suddenly we feel compelled to give up on what we believed in just a few weeks ago in a desperate attempt to return to the status quo we had just gotten comfortable with. The status quo changes, not by choice but by force and yet we refuse to adapt. The reality of the arguments we had against the status quo are quickly forgotten as we face imminent danger and we begin to beg for a return to the very thing we were fighting against just a little while back.
In his record-breaking hit, “Imagine,” John Lennon paints a beautiful picture using vivid imagery, poetic verses, and a soothing yet catchy melody. On the surface, the song is beautiful; the lyrics are inspiring and the concept, uplifting. On the surface he is discussing something that we all yearn for: a better world of unconditional acceptance and understanding. But once you have finished imagining a world a peace and probe a little deeper you may realize that his vision for a perfect world leads to a very dark and scary place.
“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”
Utopian ideas are always popular. The idea of a world where everything is sunshine and lollipops, a world of peace and coexistence seems absolutely perfect. Utopia is an ideal vision, that is, until you consider the true repercussions of a utopian world.
What is it that gives our lives meaning? What is it that inspires your actions and motivates you to do what it is you do? It is these questions that build the very foundation of every individual. His dreams, goals, expectations and wishes for the future and how he goes about achieving those goals comprises the core of every individual’s value system.
When I was in midrasha about 5 years ago, a very wise rabbi stood up before a class and asked us a very pointed question. Why should I, a man who grew up in the United States- why on earth should feel motivated to pick up my life and move to a country that finds itself in a constant state of war with the knowledge that more likely than not I will send my son off to the army to fight and possibly die for this country? Every answer we offered received a quick no. After 2 days we gave up. He looked at us with a sad smile and said in a quiet voice “because if there is nothing to die for, then what pray tell, is the purpose of living?”
Passion. Dedication. Love. If you cannot point to something and say I would be willing to die for that, life very simply lacks meaning. Stand up for something, represent something, feel something.
When John Lennon asks me to consider a world with nothing to live or die for; a world where everything that motivates my actions, the very core of my being, the things that define me and my life do not exist. The world he describes is nothing short of apathetic, void of all meaning and passion for anything or anyone.
“Imagine no possesions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
Brotherhood, unity and connection; something that runs beneath the surface, something deeper, something that can only be felt and cannot necessarily be explained in simple words. It motivates action and it motivates people to keep on living. Without a sense of purpose what is the point to life?
We could look at John Lennon’s ideal picture of the world and consider it to be perfect or if you take a step back, all I see is a robotic, emotionless, pointless place to live with absolutely no substance or purpose. We would be cookie cutter people, born just to live and die with nothing to do in between. Life takes more; it takes passion and motivation for it to mean anything.
My brothers are at war for more than the simple need for protection; they are at war for something so much deeper. The Jewish people have been at war for centuries. We have fought for survival, we have fought for the very basic right to life and we have fought for our right to simply be who we are without baseless and blatant hate. We are a nation that understands that there is more to life than just picket fences and freshly cut lawns. Life takes meaning and when your life has meaning it is suddenly worth fighting for.
Don’t get me wrong, I want peace as much as the next person. The idea that I will never again wake up to the sound of a rocket or to read the name of another soldier killed in the name of my country sounds all too appealing. I too am a dreamer, but in my humble opinion peace does not have to come at the price of all things that make life worth living.
Our boys are fighting for love, for a people and a nation. Our boys are fighting for survival and more importantly; our boys are fighting for the truth. The world may be against us for some inexplicable reason but we will keep on fighting because it is what we do for the things that give our lives meaning.
So the war carries on and I continue dating. Who knows? Maybe the next war will be the last and maybe the next guy will be the one. But I will keep on living my life full of passion, meaning and conviction until the answer becomes clear.
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” –John Stuart Mill