More than once over the past year I have found myself without access to the internet. It is sort of comical, actually – I own a computer, a smart phone and a PDA that are able to detect and snatch a connection almost anywhere. I have checked my email on public streets, riding as a passenger on a train and in the homes and businesses of the people I visit. I have settled arguments by pulling up information from a website while standing in lines, learning in a classroom and visiting in Israel.
I don’t quite take my connectability for granted, but I am convinced that I am never more than a few feet away from a hot spot.
So during a couple of weather-related incidents in both cold and hot weather, when the power went out and with it the “traditional” tether and the wireless alternative, I became irrationally frantic. I lived for more than forty years without the internet and for closer to fifty years without wireless access. Why was this such a big deal?
What happens with web access (or telephone or television) is a great insight into human nature. We accustom ourselves to what we choose, and often convince ourselves of the necessity of our choices. When someone else holds the power to control that resource, they control us as well.
It is a lesson we learn continually and forget every time. Whether it is crude oil, the newest i-gadget, sporting event tickets or personal weapons, we become indignant and desperate if our self-imposed need is frustrated.
Only those things which find their source and supply within are truly ours. We are consumers of everything else.
Faiths in general and Jewish involvement in particular, are resources that find a wellspring deep inside. They are not dependent on any external provider – rabbi, synagogue, philanthropic or fraternal organization or even God – to enable the individual to meet his or her own need. The connection can be tethered by the strings and straps and pages of Jewish objects and texts, or wireless through the words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts, not to mention the deeds of devotion.
Don’t get caught frustrated as I did. Cultivate your wireless connection.