II must admit to being disappointed when Roger Waters, waxer lyrical in masterpieces of the rock symphony like The Wall, and the exquisite sarcasm in Amused to Death, whipped out his paint canister and celebrated his historic visit to Israel’s Separation Wall by spraying on in bright red capital letters the legend: WE DON’T NEED NO THOUGHT CONTROL.
We all know he can do better than that. Quoting the lines of one of his only songs recognisable to the great unwashed diluted the occasion and did much more to reclaim authorship to the lyrics than anything to influence (without control) the minds of all those who admire him so. With all the subtlety of an elephant with a sprained ankle he makes a crude associational reference to tearing down a walls by shrieking a criticism of postwar educational methods on the very wall portrayed as blocking children’s access to their school.
He did gain my avid approval though for his answer to the Press when asked whether that was his message to the Israeli people. (The reporter obviously had gotten that elusive message.) “No, Of course not.” He simply explained to the camera. “It’s got nothing to do with them. It’s a message to the Israeli government.”
Not many care enough to bother to make that distinction and I am glad but not surprised he did. It is a sad truth though that rock and film stars have more influence on the public than any leaders do and sadder still that most have hardly an opinion worth sharing between them. Without minimising the wonderful examples stars like Geldof, Bono and indeed Waters do set, they are in such a pitifully small minority that I think they must be what they are in spite of their fame not because of it.
It would be nice if I could go on and remind everyone how at least our Chassidic youth can look to their spiritual guides and teachers for instruction but that is unfortunately not true. Instead I believe most of us are still looking for their spiritual guides and teachers. Which is why Mobile phones are not allowed but everybody has them, the Internet is banned and Hyde Park’s Charedi Forums are the busiest in Israel. Our leaders, the cream of our society and the infallible who uniquely can transmit the word of God, find themselves stuck in the traffic behind the great technology juggernaught that is redefining our lives far quicker than they seem to be able to react and divine has become an adjective to describe that latest mobile phone.
For our leadership and community ever to amount to anything they are going to have to become relevant and learn to act instead of reacting. Learn to actually keep a finger on the pulse of both the Shtetl and the street. To stick their stiff necks out and earn their stripes, not to mention their keep. Because for the moment, in the stride between technology and Torah, the chip is in the lead, unlike within the leadership where it sits firmly on the shoulder.