Size Doesn’t Matter—or does it?
A brilliant young scholar was once asked how he had become so smart being that he was so young. He replied that everything he knew he had studied in five minutes.
“How could that be?” he was asked. To which the young scholar answered, “Every time I had five minutes, I studied.”
In today’s world when we hear numbers such as 6.791 billion marking the world population or $1.4 trillion marking the 2009 US deficit or billions of years old marking the world’s age, it becomes evermore difficult for us to appreciate the small things such as our own worth, the value of money, or the preciousness of time. We live in a world of such exaggerations that the small and the simple seem to have lost their place. We are the super-sized generation where bigger is deemed better and small is irrelevant.
Go into any book store today and you will be assaulted by titles that invite you to be the best wife, the best cook, the best salesman, the best terrorist (okay, that one I made up). But the fact is I have never seen a self-help book that simply offers you how to be a tiny fraction better today than yesterday and a bit better tomorrow. Yet, sweeping and lasting change comes not in bold strokes but in tiny, honest incremental steps. As such, most of these books that offer "the world" but can't even deliver a moment end up in the cemetery of useless reading which decorates our book shelves.
We learn this week in the story of Noah that God did not destroy the world because of rampant and brazen sins such as killing or stealing, crimes which the legal systems of the time could deal with. According to biblical teachings, the world was destroyed because the people were guilty of chomos (not to be mistaken for chummus or Hamas). Chomos means “taking” something of an insignificant amount which can not really be defined as stealing. For instance, someone goes to a market and tears off a grape and eats it--not much damage done. However, then the next person comes along and does the same thing, and so on. It is not long before that bunch of grapes, or nuts or olives are diminished both in appearance and quantity--and the owner really has no one to blame for the theft. From grape to grape justice was not served. That is when God stepped in--when people corrupted fair dealing within the parameters of the law and only God could mete out true justice.
We have only to look at the present-day housing debacle as a perfect example. People were given mortgages “legally,” but the manipulative maneuvers within the law to give unviable candidates mortgages has led to a Noahic flood of foreclosures totaling 937,840 properties in the third quarter alone. One out of every 136 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in that period. Percentage point by percentage point we allowed the flood waters to gather by our feet until we lost complete control and became submerged in catastrophe.
We must change our mindsets from thinking big time to thinking small time and guarding each and every precious moment, taking on the little battles before they become too big to handle. The adage that “a stitch in time saves nine,’ may very well be the pithy wisdom from which the tapestry of our lives can be weaved or unraveled.
The smallest units we have control of in our lives are moments of time. Yet for so many years, we have sat as grouch potatoes screaming at the TV about the wrongs in the world and our government, watching them get worse and worse. Maybe some threw a sock at Wolf Blitzer. But our harrumphing changed the world how? What lesson did we teach Generation Next by doing nothing? We let so many precious irretrievable moments slip away.
It appears that TV advertisers seem to best understand how valuable time is as they pay millions for a 30 second time slot because they believe that those few seconds can make a difference and affect consumer behavior. And they do!
Each one of us can make a difference in this world too if we want to. Perhaps not everyone can do big great things, but each of us can do small things in a great way. We must be responsible custodians for the seconds and minutes upon which history and the future pivot. Make your moments count for something. Life is essentially one protracted goodbye, from the day we are born we begin to say goodbye to our youth, to friends, to loved ones, to our health, and then to life itself. But our actions and deeds are eternal. Even if you can only make a tiny dent, it may be the sipping cup for nascent potential and the fountain of inspiration for others who can change the world.
Little things don’t mean a lot, my dear friends, they mean everything. Plug the small leaks quickly and learn from the inhabitants of Noah’s ark that the world’s failings are not someone else’s problem. For the good or the bad, we are all in the same boat.
This week's blog is dedicated to Table to Table Israel which was founded in 2003 to rescue excess, nutritious food that would otherwise be destroyed and redirect it to people in need.