Why I Have Nothing Important to Say, and Neither do You

Nothing to Say
An illustration of all the words of wisdom I have for you…
(photo credit: CC-BY-SA, user OUCHcharley, Flickr)


There’s so much happening and I haven’t been writing. But my fan base (Hi Mom, and happy birthday!) wants to hear my musings, so let’s get going.

Why I Have Nothing Important to Say

It’s not because I don’t know anything about what’s going on. I don’t live in a media free cave and I didn’t forget how to read. I read the painfully inaccurate and often agenda driven news pieces from the various media outlets about current events. I read thoughtful commentary by intelligent and well intentioned people who spin fantasies, good or bad, about the implications of the news that they also, apparently, know how to read. And the truth is that none of us have any idea what’s going on or anything better than guesses at what will happen in the future.

Take the question of peace talks, a subject which has somehow managed to claw its way back from the grave and into the headlines. Even when articles accurately reflect the pronouncements of Netanyahu or Abbas, which is rare, and even when those pronouncements are not challenged by other people in either administration muddying the waters about which source reflects ‘the truth,’ even then we have to ask ourselves why the statement was made to divine its meaning. Is it simply ‘true?’ Is it a bargaining ploy? Is Netanyahu responding to something Kerry said to him privately, trying to push the other direction? In Abbas’ heart of hearts, are negotiations really on the table or is this just a ploy to keep up American aid for a bit longer? The truth? I don’t know. Nobody knows. At this point, I’m not even sure the primary actors themselves know. Every word written is speculation, and though some articles are more well-reasoned than others, they are still based on information which is pretty close to worthless.

Netanyahu, smirk
What could he be thinking? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else!
(Photo Credit: White House)

And Neither do You

So that’s why I have nothing to say about current events. And you know what, neither do you. I know it feels good to speculate, to voice our opinions, to try to figure out the implications of what’s going on, and I am as guilty of this as most (actually, more so). It gives us the illusion that we know what’s going on. For many of us, a predictable expectation of apocalypse is preferable to a pained uncertainty about the future. Bring on ‘the big one’ rather than leaving me in suspense.

But our search for certainty magnified and turned up to 11 (see video below) by circles within circles of self-referential social media and hours spent nodding in agreement with all the articles that reinforce our biases is actually harmful. It causes us to make pronouncements about reality based on, essentially, nothing. And once we declare a position, we hold to it. We defend it. We filter the information we see and the articles we read and even the conversations we have to support and reinforce our position. The end result is a bunch of very opinionated people, myself most vociferously included, yelling at each other across the cyber-abyss about things we know nothing about, stating facts which may or may not be true and spinning stories that are either comforting or terrifying about what is truly an unknown and un-predictable future. And because the narratives we build up in our heads based on these fictions are so complex and powerful, so far removed from the very few facts we actually know, we have trouble even knowing how to look for the real information and distinguishing it from the noise.

Opinionator on Strike!

So for the moment I’m going on strike from making declarations to the world about things I know nothing about, and I’m going to spend some time, I dunno, playing with my kids or working or something. Because whether a man-made apocalypse or the final redemption or just another boring run-of-the-mill day is around the corner, that’s probably about the limit of what I can do about it.

Lion Boy
Is your pet issue really more important than this?
About the Author
Rabbi Eitan Levy is a tour guide and organizer in Israel. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, got a BA in philosophy at Sarah Lawrence, and rabbinic ordination at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He loves to share his love of the Torah, land and people of Israel in writing, lectures, and tours. He lives in Tekoa with his wife and three little gremlins.