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  Chapter 16 from
Buy Green Bananas
Observation on self, family, life

By Rabbi Berel Wein 


Other Available Chapters
10  13  27 


An Amateur Built The Ark,Professionals the Titanic

This brilliant little essay is inspired by a blurb I saw recently in an e-mail communication that I received. Those pithy little sentences read: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, an amateur built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” There are innate tendencies within us that work at cross-purposes with one another. On one hand, there exists within all of us the great fear of the unknown. Newton’s law of inertia holds true not only in the mechanical and physical world of physics but in the world of human psychology and spirit as well. People crave security and therefore remain in jobs, relationships and situations which are unsatisfying, simply because they fear the uncertainty of change. On the other hand, human beings possess an inner drive to explore the unknown, to discover the secret and hidden, to risk and be an adventurer. All human progress in science, commerce, navigation, mechanics and even government stems from this latter drive – from the spirit of bold adventure that always nudges us to try something new.

Observe an infant at play, crawling on the floor. An infant is really an unlearned and uninhibited adult human being. The infant will reach for anything on the floor, will tirelessly examine its environment and will wail and complain when well-meaning adults thwart its attempts at discovery and change. This is the natural state of human beings – inquisitive, adventurous, never at rest, always looking to tinker and improve. In our always-uncertain world it is natural to crave security and stability. Financial planners, estate planners, insurance experts and politicians in office all attempt to convince us that the way it is now is how it will be in the future as well. However, all of us in our secret hearts know that the only thing certain about the future is that it will not be the same as the present. Therefore, we should be prepared to be open to new circumstances, to a constantly changing world. We should not be afraid to try out new technology, new ideas and theories, to change careers and pursue our true interests and goals. There is an innate longing for greatness within all of us. That longing cannot ever be fulfilled without a willingness to change, improve and try something new.

People should not fear starting a second career, even one that begins in mid-life. Naturally, impetuous and ill-thought-out behavior can be disastrous. But in our ever-changing society and economy it is becoming clear that many if not most of us will complete our working career doing something far different than that which we had been trained for when we first entered the workplace. So, wise planning for the future always entails keeping an eye open for new possibilities and situations. The world of the computer, of the Internet and of all its attendant spin-offs, is uncharted territory. But it is the space of the future and we should not allow ourselves to be terrified. One should never be frightened of newfangled equipment. The inquisitive spirit of human beings has invented a world undreamed of by our grandparents. We live in that world, but we also should have an eye out searching for the new world that constantly lurks beyond our field of vision. Progress – physical, political and spiritual – is always contingent upon the willingness to try something new.

 
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