Imagine having a resource that had all of the answers to all of the questions that you can possibly imagine. You don’t need a network, a search engine, or the requirement to sift through thousands of options in order to find exactly the data that you are searching. If the information that you needed wasn’t immediately visible, it simply wasn’t important or didn’t exist.
Many years ago, our family had such a resource. It was called “The Black Book” and it resided in the closet of my parents’ bedroom. If I had this book now, it would probably be worth a healthy amount of money because it was so unique and now, so outdated.
The point here is that before we had internet and the real time information that we now have at our fingertips, we had to avail ourselves of other options. When I had to write a term paper, either in high school or in college, the black book was no longer in my possession and I had to make a trek to the public library. But the Black Book was a staple during my elementary education years and nothing else in our home was as valuable as it was.
As a student of World War II and the Holocaust and an author of the same subjects, I now rely both on my reading materials and the data that I can collect on the internet. My gratitude for the information that I can access within minutes is without boundaries and I am certain that I couldn’t do the writing I do without this access. And I absolutely and positively don’t want to lose the technology that we have.
But I can’t persuade myself that I am any happier about the world in general than I was when I had the Black Book. It was simple, compact, and the definite source of everything that I needed to know. This was also the time when we had four television stations, washed our cars in the driveway, played badminton in the back yard, and stayed outside in the summer until dark without fear of anything.
We can’t and don’t want to impede progress. At the same time, I remember with boundless sentimentality those days when I really believed that all of the information I needed or wanted was within the 856 pages of the Black Book. Life was much less complicated in that world. Shalom.