ARTICLES

THE WORLD IN DISGUISE

RABBI DANIEL LEVY

Feb 19, 2008

I want to share with you a piece from one of my favourite authors, Noah ben Shea

(author of Jacob’s Ladder).
 
We Remember to Forget
 

“Tell us,” said one of the schoolchildren to Jonah, "why we should treat our neighbours as our-selves.”

“I will tell you a story,” said Jonah, quieting the room with the blanket of his voice.

“Once there was only one boy in the whole world. He felt he was the most important person,  and he was, because there was no one to argue with him. There was also no one to talk to or play with. So one night, just before falling asleep, he prayed.

“Dear G-d, said the boy, 'I know that You made me special, but I wonder if You would please make more people just like me.”

The next day when the boy woke he found that the world was now filled with little boys, all looking just like him. They also all felt they were special, just like him.

“Oh no,” thought the boy, “this won't do at all.”

“That night the boy again prayed to G-d: “Dear G-d, please let all the others know that they are not as special as I am.”

“And G-d answered, “But how can I make the others think they are less important than you if the others are you?”

“There must be something You can do,” said the boy, upset that he had upset his world.

“This is what I will do,” said G-d. “I will put every-one in disguise. So though everyone is you, no one will look quite the same, and some will look quite different.'"

“But that won't be enough,” said the boy. “Everyone will remember that beneath the surface we are very much the same, that You made us all.”

“Trust Me,” said G-d, “even you will remember to forget.”

 

The challenge is to truly see ourselves in others, at which point just as we want the best for ourselves we would want the best for them too. In The Fox, the Foetus and the Fatal Injection - I wrote about the distortion of morality today, where some people seem more concerned with fox hunting than with abortion and assisted dying. If we internalise the message above, terminating the life of someone else would be unthinkable, as we would want others to experience life just as we do.

TAGS for this article: Ethics