Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let go of your ego

Let go of your ego

Dr. Haim Shine

Rabbi Nahman of Breslov used to tell a story of three laborers who were tasked with tilling the fields for the king. The lazy workers, who slacked off on the job, were very worried about the king's wrath. A wise man happened upon them, noticed their distress and told them of a tall tree in a nearby forest. Nesting on the tree's highest branch is a wonderful song bird, he told them, and the bird's melodies relax the king and soothe his anger. The three laborers quickly ran to the tree, and, while standing at its base began arguing over whom would stand on whose shoulders so they could reach the bird nestled in the canopy. Suffice it to say, they couldn't agree and were eventually punished by the king.

I remembered this story following the failed meeting between the leaders of the Labor, Yesh Atid and Hatnuah parties; a meeting that began with high hopes and ended with accusations of calculated media spins. Their differences aren't ideological, they are about who will stand on whose shoulders; in other words, about who will lead.

To my sorrow, there are no parties left in the current election race, only party leaders. Their egos, like hot air balloons, inflating and deflating according to virtual public opinion polls, are the central factor behind their conduct.

As long as massive egos remain the purview of politicians — that's plenty. A person cannot enter the vicious political battle field without possessing an element of megalomania, to some degree or another. A rookie politician who doesn't declare him or herself worthy of being prime minister isn't noticed or respected. I hope we can one day leave the reins of the country's leadership in the hands of enterprising professionals and mediocre lawyers. Any intelligent person knows that the State of Israel, with all of the problems and challenges it faces, cannot be run by inexperienced amateurs.

The real tragedy lays such ego games being dangerous and permeating the heart of the defense establishment, which is supposed to be secretive but has become an open book. When those serving in the Israel Defense Force chief of General Staff's bureau, seemingly stemming from a sense of vengefulness, hurt feelings and misplaced honor, identify the enemy as sitting in the defense minister's office, then we are left with an ethical and moral failure with disconcerting existential ramifications.

Who can assure us that personal considerations aren't disproportionately factored when it comes to deciding sensitive operational matters as well? Israeli soldiers have the right to know with certainty that the army's leaders are devoid of political and economical considerations. The damage that IDF commanders have inflicted on the trust of Israeli citizens is worse than any criminal indictment which could arise from the Harpaz affair.

There is reason to believe that ego was a primary motivation behind former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Yuval Diskin's interview in Yedioth Ahronoth. If Israel's prime ministers and defense ministers can't trust the heads of the Shin Bet and Mossad to remain discreet following their service, then our situation, as citizens, is dire.

Any criticism that the heads of the security agencies have must be voiced during their tenure, and if it is serious — they must resign immediately. Regarding those who have failed to do so, I cannot fault the Israeli public for seeing their actions as an expression of frustrated ego. Before the homeland is conquered by ego, it is crucial that we go back to dealing with our vision and legacy and how we instill them, so that the Jewish state can see a better future.