“What might save us, me and you… is if the Russians love their children, too.” Singer / songwriter Sting wrote that near the end of the Cold War, when we still thought Russians were going to be the death of us (listen here or watch it below).
I came of age with these optimistic words ringing in my ears – and the assumption that, since our enemies are just like us, we’ll ultimately find peace.
I hate to say it, but Sting lied to a whole generation of us. We’re really not all the same.
A friend said in a dvar Torah last week that while Migdal Bavel (the Towel of Babel) was being built, the builders had tremendous unity of purpose. They were all working together in harmony. It was the first and last time all the people of the world worked together with such clarity.
So why did Hashem object, to the point of smashing the tower and scattering the people?
My friend explained that if one of the builders fell down from the tower to his death, the others wouldn’t cry. No big deal; they had lots of people. If a brick fell down, however… it was the end of the world.
At the time, bricks were the hottest new technology. They’d just been invented, and they were hard to make. There were also no sophisticated modern ovens, so bricks tended to be fragile and crumble easily.
Bricks were valuable. People were throwaways.
You wouldn’t believe anyone was like that today, would you? Like Sting says, we’re all basically the same, with the same values, right?
Reluctantly, I don’t think so anymore.