Sunday, May 08, 2011

The cost to catch Bin Laden

Here's one of the hundreds of Bin Laden jokes floating around the Internet: "It took the most powerful, technologically advanced country in the world hundreds of millions of dollars and over a decade of searching through the Afghani mountains to find one man in his home." Exactly how much the Bin Laden hunt cost the US is unclear, but it was no cheap operation. 

It's a week later and the media remains obsessed with the details of the special forces' operation, the machinations of Al Qaeda network and with the foreboding of retaliatory attacks on Western interests. Even William and Kate's most-watched-ever wedding has receded to a page-two story, overshadowed by the specter of the world's arch-terrorist. The world has abandoned the exuberance of a fairy-tale couple to fixate on the hate-filled architect of global terror.

Typical human behaviour. 

Did the US squander disproportionate time, expertise and money in the search for Osama? Who knows. But, each of us blows energy, time and emotion on the little "Bin Laden" who lives in our heads. He's the guy who always bombs your plans to become more disciplined, to improve your relationships or to connect with G-d. Whenever you're primed to make progress, he blasts away at your resolve. 

So, you start searching for Osama. 

"Why do I always fail?", "What causes me to slide backwards when I thought I was making progress?" 

You enlist expert help, spend time in therapy, retrace your childhood and dissect your personality. Over years, you spend hundreds of hours, fortunes of energy and an heaps of money hunting your nemesis. You may eventually find and eliminate him. But you might just expend time, energy and money only to remain frustrated. 

Judaism doesn't recommend seek-and-destroy when it comes to internal works. The Torah's advice is to build the positive inside yourself. Do more. Learn more. Help others more. Invest in growth and positivity and your inner-enemy will dissolve.  

Obsession with bad guys is good for the Navy SEALS. You concentrate on growing the good within yourself. 


Michael said...

I love this column Rabbi. It is excellent. I will look back and review it again and again. Thank you. I am so glad to have found your blog.

We need to focus on cultivating the good within ourselves, through mitzvot, rather than dwelling the problematic aspects of our psychology.

With the explosion of electronic media, has the world become too focused on the evil in society, at the expense of appreciating the beauty and goodness in the world Hashem created?

Rabbi S said...

Hi Michael

Thank you for your comments and encouragement.

Technology in all forms is neither good nor evil. It's all a matter of how we use it. The Internet, for example, could be a cesspool of immorality or the greatest resource of knowledge and inspiration.

So, yes, many people have used electronic media to focus on evil (ever watched the news?) and as a distraction from the beauty of Hashem's world. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught, it's out challenge to harness that media to spread meaning, inspiration and goodness. To help keep balance, we need to power down regularly (like 2 hours techno-free every Shabbat) to reconnect with G-d's world.