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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Our World Imperfect

March 18, 2019


There is so much to complain about in life, it is easy to lose one’s sense of perspective. We didn’t ask to come into this world. We had to blunder around to figure out the rules of the game when we finally came to our senses. Perhaps, we didn’t even think much about it. We were just there and totally dependent on these people around us who cared, or didn’t care, about attending to our creature comforts. We learned pretty quickly what that was about, and whether it paid to complain or not.

So, it was a total roll of the dice. And so much depended on it, as far as we were concerned. We could have been born anywhere and to anyone. Our situation during the next ten or fifteen years of our lives, if we lived that long, was almost totally beyond our control. Or we might have already been out on the street by the time we were five. In some cultures kids are put to work by the time they are that age. It’s either that or our bodies could be on a junk pile somewhere. Broadening our perspective to imagine a world of seven or eight billion people around the globe gives us some pictures we don’t often think about.

I’m sure all of my readers are among the more fortunate in the world. But even in our places there are tales of woe we would find difficult to imagine. Particularly for those of us who came into developed societies from less organized place, there are unpleasant tales to be told. Dickens gives us a tiny taste of what life was like in earlier societies many of us came from, You can get flashes of insight regarding the horrors being witnessed around ustoday when we see some news reports from far-away places.

Some of us are pretty lucky that we have not come out on the short end of the stick. We all know a little bit about all this even though we do not spend much time thinking about it. So this is not a letter of complaint. It is the opposite, an expression of gratitude and joy about all the things that have gone right for us in the world.



Some of us lose our hearing but most of us have the pleasure of enjoying the sounds we love to hear, music, dialogue, the news from family, friends and lovers. How precious that can be! Some of us lose our sight or find it more limited as we age. What a blessing it is to awaken to the light of a new morning, and the plenitude of beauty all around us that we can see. (We will be returning soon to our home in Vancouver and I expect to see the streets strewn with petals dropped by the cherry blossom trees. I look forward to that every year.) Some of us find our minds dimming, but for most of our time on this earth our minds have been fully in charge of the business of our lives.

We may take these things for granted. We shouldn’t!

I find that I am not as spry these days as I used to be. I remember when it seemed to me that I could run like the wind. I can still run, (more like a trot!) but to tell the truth, something always seems to hurt a little and it feels




great when I stop. I still do exercise for oldsters and congratulate myself on my virtue. I do yoga with younger ones, but some of the stretches they do I don’t even try. I know I should walk more, but very often I take a bus. I am grateful that I can still get around in the performance of the business of daily life. We still travel, but some of the longer trips are getting to be a tough deal. Never mind! Life is still full of the adventure of living.

There are many people more fortunate than we are on a material basis. But there are many, many more who are much less fortunate on this planet. Many of us were born to caring parents. Some were not. That was the luck of the draw. Some of us were born in a place where centuries of development led to an ordered society where the concept of human rights was identified and honored. There are plenty of places where that is not true. That again is the luck of the draw. (What I can’t understand is why some people who have escaped places where that is not honored, and who now share my



space, want to import the regime they escaped and establish it on my home ground. Over my dead body!)

So, like many of you, I can find lots of things to complain about. I haven’t mentioned the big challenges like global warming and coordinating a galloping technology with need for our societies to find meaningful and remunerative work for the coming generations. I know that those problems will be for others to solve but I worry about them. We will always have to find global ways to moderate human greed for possessions and power in whatever form it takes, national, racial or religious. There is no end to the challenges the human family faces.

As for myself, I am celebrating the very good things about our lives that we may forget about as we strive for perfection. How about you?

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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