This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot – The Hollow Men
No specific actions, statements or conditions prompted me to think of this quote yesterday. While we are all cognizant of turmoil, uncertainty and anxiety in our lives, I am certain that it wasn’t a specific fear of war that prompted me to think about this most powerful of 20th century poems.
The critical reviews of this poem are as considerable as its significance. For these purposes, however, it seems that we must pay attention to the less audible sounds of discontent rather than the explosive finality of warfare.
Under no circumstances will I use this site for political pronouncements. All I am suggesting is that as a nation, we must be paying attention to the small but critical aspects of society. In addition to having no ability to impact foreign policy, most of us have no power to effect change except in our daily lives.
We have the ability to contribute to the research for diseases for which we have the greatest connection or passion. We also have the opportunity to contribute to food banks and shelters that are in desperate need. And on a daily basis, many of us have the occasions to deposit some small act of kindness into the universe in which we live.
The fact that this poem mimics a childhood song with its repetition and simplicity is no accident. With some consciousness of our fundamental needs and convictions, we should have the absolute clarity of youth. Instead of Eliot’s impending doom without our intervention, we have the ability to impact our destinies, one small sound at a time. Shalom.