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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Seeking the Brightness Through Dark Glasses

by Max Roytenberg, May 5, 2018


Today was a sunny day on the West coast of North America. My Bride and I, conscious of the continuing winter climate in vast areas to the east of us, struck a blow to welcome an oncoming summer. We had signed up for a garden plot and in due course were assigned a tiny garden in the neighborhood planting area. Today was the day we chose to venture forth with plants, fertilizer and a trowel. We found our spot, heavily overgrown, with evidence of the work of previous pioneers, roots of onions, beets, turnips and unidentified vegetable species.


Two octogenarians, busy with agricultural pursuits, recalled for us our days in the Winnipeg of our youth. There, in North America’s bread basket, our forbearers arrived a generation or two ago, to carve out a life in that harsh climate, their beginnings complete with dirt floors and sod roofs. Here, in our own pioneering, we accomplished our task, planting green beans, green onions and potatoes. We hope against hope, that we will see a harvest.


We needed a nap to recover from our exertions when we finally arrived back at our fifth floor aerie. We mused to ourselves how age had eroded the powers we had always assumed we had. Our illusions of youthfulness had faded before the rigor of the tasks we had taken on. We soldiered on to a completion before wending our way home.


We are painfully aware, in spite of the full lives we lead, busy, ever so busy, that we are in the Creators waiting room. The tidal wave of newness overwhelms us as we bravely seek to absorb digestible smidgens, crying victory with every tiny accomplishment. We fall further and further behind the pace of change. Our young invent new words and new meanings for old words. Our offspring and their offspring slow down to speak our language, and we swell with the pride of a phantasmal ownership of a piece of the future. We stare bright-eyed at the kaleidoscope we inhabit and pretend we understand.

We feel powerless in a world run amok. The generation we have left behind, clinging to power, struggles to tame a world of their own making. By their actions they betray all the principles they piously espouse. Contrary to the better nature of human beings, they do violence to the basic tenets of the civilization they purport to defend. Hypocrisy is the mask they use to shield themselves in the tales they tell their children.


The children are learning to know better. The young are awake and awakened and they begin to see the untruths being commercialized. They have their own independent channels of communication and they are using them to unite in numbers. They reject the contradictory cacophony of the media broadcasting fantasies to an older generation wedded to narrow visions of self-interest.


The young are learning the power of their independent voice. They are learning how powerful they can be with a united voice. The tools of the future are in their hands and we are and will be increasingly dependent on their expertise. The phenomenon we have witnessed of the young revolting to express their unique interest, can have its expression in every corner of the world. Though they now must tread carefully, they will ultimately bring down the citadels of falsehood and inherit the world they will need to remake.


So, I am sitting on my balcony and am contemplating a future wherein I can only make encouraging sounds from the sidelines. I hope that, at least, my offspring can hear me. My tiny voice is little heard, and is of little import, just another small noise in the general static. As it should be. Like many of you I am absorbed with a focus on my creature comforts. I wear my special hat to keep off the rain, and my favorite sweater to keep out the cold. I run to warmer climates to escape the rain and gloom. I take my pills, exercise regularly, and revel in the company of my Bride. For the most part, outside my small circle, I am irrelevant.


From my cave, wearing my dark glasses, I stare out, straining to see the further brightness I am sure I see coming over the horizon. In the end, I may not see it, but I am fully convinced my vision of the future, the brightness I see coming out of the dark, will be the happy picture my children and my children’s children will see.


Never underestimate the fierceness with which life seeks its own survival.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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