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These days, the term “middle east conflict” would seem to refer to conflict and unrest in every state in the region but Israel.

Nonetheless, while Egypt roils and Syria burns and the King of Jordan fends off the seeding of perhaps a new class of secular Palestinian politico*, Qatar’s new head of state, Sheikh Tamim has this to say of the refugees of numerous Arab-led wars since 1948:

One day when our “Blue Dot” of a planet is a little more gathered together — that as opposed to riven with war — we may find common ground in five language principles:

Compassion

Humility

Integrity

Justice

Security

Of the four, the most difficult term and the one most relevant to autocracies seems to me to be “integrity” — just the power to be honest about ourselves and with others.

This is not as easy as it may sound.  If it were, we would not have the fairy tale that is “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, which is in essence and for the ages a story about lying and power.

*****

It may be noted that God placed two trees in the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When the snake entices Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, only mention is made of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, effectively hiding the other tree through omission.

You know the rest of the story: Eve eats the apple, becomes conscious or comprehending, also self-conscious, and, with Adam joining her, possessed of conscience, out of which reaction, perhaps, come the fig leaves, a courtesy, each to the other, and practical too (God, a few sentences later, provides clothing made of skins — one imagines chamois — lending perhaps dignity and protection to their introduction to life as men and women would experience it forever after).

The “Middle East Conflict” — which is never about conflicts in the middle east but only about the creation of the Jews and Israel (or, lost in the Pharaohnic dawn, the gathering together beneath the unrestrained ego and violence of a tyrant)l — seems to me to be always about two things not at ease with one another: 1) the possession of good conscience in light of the knowledge of good and evil; 2) the testing of God for favor when the relationship needs to be the other way around.

*****

Where kings are concerned, I suspect there may be more to the story than meets either eyes or ears.

When God, being God, and with Torah received as divine message, hides the second tree — the Tree of Life that we are told is there but when it counts is not mentioned by the snake and, later, will be barred from access (by cherubim and an eternally revolving sword guarding the Garden left behind) — the sin of omission becomes a virtue: to have eaten of the Tree of Life also would have been too much, for God forbids it, and so protects His children.

*****

To be as gods, lower case that term, with nuclear capabilities, among other extraordinary but still human capacities, one might counsel also a prudent humility.

Carl Sagan’s clip about the “Pale Blue Dot” that is our planet viewed from space, has many renditions on the web — and there’s an entire film available too (somewhere — I’m going to be lazy here) — but this may do for essence.

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