Friday, February 22, 2008

Sometimes It's the Little Things That Count

I was wondering what I was going to write my next post about when I scrolled through the comments on the retirement posting and found my answer. The comment was as follows:

"I think we spend too much time worrying about all the little things like if retirement is jewish or not when we should be looking at the larger picture. The retirement question is only a tiny part of a much bigger problem. If we would concentrate on that problem the retirement issue would go away or fix itself." Doni

Certainly Doni's perspective is not all that unusual. A lot of people agree with him that you have to see the whole, examine the whole and fix the whole. Start at the top and work your way down; start on the outside and work your way in. Fixing one flat tire won't help you if all four are flat; you still can't drive the car. Don't get me wrong; I've used this method on some problems and it has worked. But there is another approach that also works.

For me the other approach is illustrated by an old English rhyme that was often used to encourage children to look at the logical consequences of their actions, showing the possible events that could follow a single act. Many have also used it to illustrate the idea that "the devil is in the details." It's the small things that you do or don't do that can influence what kind of a "whole" you are going to have.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

It is the initial action--the lack of a nail--that influences all of the other events that follow. Fixing that one part of the problem will have influence on the other problems that have followed from it. If you change something on the bottom you're going to effect change on the top as well.

It doesn't matter which particular aspect of the problems In frum Klal you start with--if you change that little part you've made a start. Let's be really honest here. No one but no one has an adequate and/or accurate picture of what frum Klal in total actually is or even who belongs in it. That,too, is one of the problems. Sometimes we don't have the knowledge or the resources to do a total overhaul. We can continue to rail at frum life in general or we can change the broken lightbulb in the bathroom and go on from there. Because if you can see in the bathroom then maybe you'll be able to replace the broken tiles. Or maybe the leaky faucet. Or the moldy shower curtain.


Anonymous said...

I sometimes hate it when you are right. Went to clear away some of the snow this morning and the snow machine we bought isn't working---forgot to get gas to put in it. So because of no gas the machine is lost. And because of no machine the driveway is lost (you can't believe how much it snows in NJ! Our first winter here). And because the driveway is lost the car is lost. And because the car is lost I can't get in it and go buy some gas for the blower.

My neighbor lent me a snow shovel. Great way to spend an unexpected day off. And it's all my own fault.

Anonymous said...

I really needed to lose a lot of weight and I tried diet after diet. I followed the whole diet plan and just couldn't manage to keep on them or lose the weight.

I finally found a weight specialist doctor who helped me. I was expecting a whole big book of instructions and instead the first week he told me the only thing I had to do was to change to 1% or skim milk for drinking or in my coffee. That was it. After a few weeks and when using the new milk had become just part of my household, he told me to try oatmeal for breakfast. I tried it but I just can't eat oatmeal every day. So he said, okay try a regular cereal with X grams of fiber in it. That worked out okay. It took 15 months but I made the changes I needed to and lost the weight. Each change had to be there for the other changes to work.

I tried fixing the big problem first but that didn't work for me. When I took it one small part at a time I was successful. Eventually I solved the big problem, but I had a lot of small successes along the way.

Anonymous said...

The little things are connected to and add up to large things. Just like a klal is made up of individuals.

So people shouldn't just say or think, oh, that is just (a) yochid/yechidim, we can safely ignore them. They do so at their own peril.

Tuvi -

Orthonomics said...

Many of the issues that need addressed are interrelated, e.g. overextending financially and the inability to place appropriate limits. The inability to put in place appropriate limits is related to the drinking issues seen on Purim.

But, where do we start? I agree with you, you have to start somewhere. I think one of the points of looking at specific sub-issues is that different issues motivate different people.