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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Ha Lachma Anya 10: The Power of Place

This Year We are Here – Next Year in Jerusalem: Our environment affects and manipulates us in ways we cannot even comprehend. Take a simple thing as clothing.

It is impossible to think of getting dressed without using the environment’s choices. True, you make the final choice, but it’s a selection from which the society gives you few options. It is virtually impossible to dress in a way that is personal to you. All designs are really someone else’s taste and even the designer is building upon last year’s fashions.

Morality and life goals are much the same. We are only choosing from a list of options prevalent in society.

That alone would not be too bad, but our environment affects us further. It subtly pushes in directions of which we are often unaware — this is what trends are made of. Even the options we have are not real options — peer pressure, family pressure, societal pressure all have a very profound influence on which path we will travel. If we want to know what a Russian thinks pick up ‘Pravda’. If a Russian wants to know what you think he’ll pick up ‘Time’. The editors of Time magazine know better what you are going to be thinking than you do — they are going to be writing it!

That’s an incredible thought, one from which we should all shudder. We are as much influenced by Time magazine and the general media, as a Russian is influenced by Pravda. Pravda doesn’t report national opinions, it, like the Western media, does more to create them. The only difference is the Russian government tells (or used to tell) Pravda what to write — not a very consoling difference.

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