The Nexus and the Olive Tree
Thomas Freidman's book "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" spoke of the effects of globalization on tradition. The title seemed a perfect match for describing the globalization phenomenon. Alright, we weren’t all perfectly happy with the great sucking sound, but the golden straight-jacket, though not a perfect fit, was not completely uncomfortable, and it had, after all, a golden lining. We could empathize very well with the fiddler's Hodel who heard, "Oh Hodel, have I made a match for you. He's handsome! He's young! All right, he's 62. But he's a nice man, a good catch. True? True! I promise you'll be happy. And even if you're not, there's more to life than that. Don't ask me what! May the Lord protect and defend you." Tradition! Capitalism. Tradition! Free markets. Tradition! A Lexus in every garage. Yes. This could fit, after all, very well. In our quest for the golden fleece, we soon forgot its nexus with the tradition of individualism which gave it birth as well as the nexus of this same individualism with the faith which inspired it. Anne Hutchinson could faintly be heard to sing;
"May He always shield you from shame.
May you come to be
In Israel a shining name.
May you be like Ruth and like Esther.
May you be deserving of praise.
Strengthen them, Oh Lord,
And keep them from the strangers' ways."
The stranger's ways were collectivist refutations of the inner light which threatened a dangerous outbreak of individualism, itself a form of anti-traditionalism. We, in essence, have a tradition of anti-traditionalism. It is this tradition which has given rise to our form of free market capitalism as well as much in our legal tradition, to include due process and the presumption of innocence – principles which some now question.
But globalization has brought out another nexus which looms larger than the shame of breaking with tradition; the nexus of those affiliated with an alternative tradition. In our zeal to combat this threat, individualism is shunned, loyalty to the cause the sine qua non of patriotism, and those who sound the warning present day Chicken Littles and Quislings in our multi-generational call to a militaristic collective effort. "More than anything, we need unity" is the battle cry, even if such unity means sacrificing our intelligence and independence of thought.
All right, their playing dirty pool. But they're bad men. True? True! I promise you'll be happy. And even if you're not, there's more to life than that. Don't ask me what! May the Lord protect and defend us.