Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

"Dissent" digital art by Yusuf Gad, October 2010

So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
Ezra 3:13

On top of the ruins of the temple built by King Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians, the foundation of the new temple has now been laid by the returning remnant. This is a time for celebration, but many among them—old men, who as boys had witnessed the original temple, or had it described to them by their fathers—wept, lamenting what had been lost. The younger generation look forward in joy and hope, the older one looks back in sadness and regret, and the two conflicting emotions combine in a loud shout, echoing across the land.

No change is without regret, no matter how wonderful the new state. We grow accustomed to things, become fond of things—be they belongings, situations or even people—that are familiar, even if deeply imperfect. The mixed emotion of this moment captures the delicate balance between the old and the new, the known and the unknown, the regret and the hope. We need voices of dissent, of caution, of loss, we need our grumpy old men to keep our enthusiasm in check, to warn against hubris. Remember Babel?1 One voice is not always the optimal state, indeed usually it is not.

1 Monolith, 10/01/21