Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with this sense that all of this is an exercise in futility – that there is simply too much to know, too much I don’t know, too much I don’t or can’t understand. My ignorance on this or that subject is laid bare by the revelation of some new fact, some history unearthed that changes the entire game.
I just finished reading an article (now dated, but still quite good) about the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the enormity of the problem is just impossible to wrap my mind around. The tension and hatred and awful violence both sides subject the other to is hard to comprehend. The faith of the religious settlers is totally foreign to me – this conviction that would drive these people out into the hostile lands of their sworn enemies and make them build a life there for themselves and their children. It’s baffling.
How will all this end? Arabs killing Arabs and Jews killing Jews? One great expulsion or another. Will I be an old man wondering the same thing, staring forward into the same uncertain future? And where will this glorious nation stand, and with whom?
Certainty is a seductive mistress, and at times I find myself slipping into one position of certainty or another, sure of myself, of my convictions, of my knowledge. But then suddenly the veil falls away, and the great big universe of doubt washes over me again.
The more I know, the less I know…
I miss the simplicity of childhood. I romanticize this at times. A song or a smell carries me back. The other day it was James Taylor, Sweet Baby James, and I was suddenly driving up the Canadian coast, in the backseat of my parents’ giant brown Chevy Beauville, watching the wet trees drift by like ghosts, counting roadsigns, listening to the murmur of my mother’s voice. What a thing to be always carried about in a backseat, uncertain and uncaring of the way here or there. Unaware and content. Safe in the knowledge that someone else is at the wheel. Someone else has the map and knows the way home.