There was a story that has stuck with me through the decades. A woman was rushing to her father’s hospital bedside after learning that he was in critical condition and not expected to survive. They were not on good terms and the entire flight and taxi ride she tormented herself with thoughts of their relationship and how, deep down, she loved him dearly although she had not shared those words or thoughts with him for a very long time. She agonized that he would die before she could tell him. When she got to the hospital it was too late. He had already died. But not before leaving her a note which read simply I know.
Today the story would be somewhat different. Daughter and father and hospital staff would have had innumerable easier and instant ways of communicating. She would have been able to tell him by email that she loved him. He would have been able to respond or have a surrogate do it for him. Perhaps their overall relationship would have improved because they could share feelings and thoughts in a somewhat more impersonal way. A text? A Facebook post? A tweet?
Many years ago, half a century actually, when my sister left New Jersey and moved to Israel, my parents depended on aerogrammes to keep in touch. It sounds very primitive today, sort of like cave drawings. My parents depended on those pathetically thin blue missives which would invariably tear upon opening. But that was all they had and my sister did write verbose and detailed reports about her new life. My parents hung on every word and studied the text for innuendos like scholars study the Talmud. Was she well? Happy? In love? Of course the aerogrammes were usually about two weeks in the delivery so the news had invariably changed by the time they received it. But without choice, they clung to the aerogrammes. Telephones had, by then, become common in America but it was to be years before Israeli homes were universally equipped and certainly light years from the time that Israelis would be so connected with their cellphones, emails and every other instant communication that we now have.
I was reminded of this when, at 8 pm one evening last week, someone came to our apartment door for a visit. No phone call. No date. And also no cake since I had been caught unprepared. That never would have happened in the old days since unexpected company was always, ironically, expected. Be prepared was not an American Boy Scout phrase but the slogan of every Israeli housewife (to use an extinct phrase!). Luckily the apartment was more or less presentable and now I suppose I’ve learned and will always have something sweet in the freezer.
Today, as mentioned, we have instant communications. I still read the newspapers religiously but now, in Israel, I can easily read online the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and our local New Jersey Star Ledger. In America I read The Jerusalem Post (which is veering far too much to the right these days) and Haaretz (which is veering far too much to the left these days). These are also online and all of the above are updated constantly. The only reason to read the print edition is to enjoy with breakfast. Somehow that’s preferable to managing a phone and coffee cup simultaneously.
This brings me to our lives today, especially as they relate to politics. I’m an avid poster on Facebook. I read other people’s posts day and night and am always struck by someone whose perceptions are so profound and brilliant that I must just share and post. And in the current era when we are dealing with a trumped up president in the US and a bibi gun here in Israel, there’s lots and lots of commentary to read and ponder and share. Instantly. I am always shocked when some posts are not universally appreciated. There are lots of brilliant people out there and they are writing prolifically because there’s so much evil in our present world and so much to say about it. I’d like to share recipes but it seems the time for that is either past or still to come. It’s really not now when we are in crisis mode with governments in disarray.
And then there’s twitter. Our trumped up president insists on using this as his major way of venting with the whole world. Frankly, if I were his mother, I’d cancel his account. His language and spelling are deplorable and what he posts is even more so And I’d love to think that he’s much too busy to be trumping up tweets all night. Maybe he should be reading briefings instead.
Of course we have 24 hour news these days, to which I am also addicted. That specifically excludes FOX which is a joke and I use it for relaxation when I need a laugh. It’s laughing with tears though since so many regard their so-called reporting as truth.
So I know. And I know you know. We all cope with our present day in our own ways. Some even seek to call it the new normal and go on sharing recipes. The truth has become very elusive and this is very frightening. But we are all tuned in constantly which means that we have a certain power that those years ago did not have. We can learn and respond to news as it happens and perhaps, just perhaps, be slightly less impotent. The aerogrammes are gone. The telephone-less are gone. We are up to date and keeping watch. Unfortunately our governments may be keeping watch too. Too bad. Let’s agree to keep on sharing what we know to be right. Without fear of being insulted or ignored. Or worse!