Blog by Dr. David Sanders
At the end of the film Titanic, as she lay half-conscious on a makeshift raft, Rose extends her reach to grab a whistle out of the mouth of an already dead shipman. She can barely purse her lips, managing a feeble alert, a high-pitched whistle in the wind to signal, that among the dead in the frigid waters, there is still one person clinging to life.
This coming Monday, Rosh Hashanah, we will all be whistleblowers. The sounding of the shofar calls to us from our half-conscious state, inertia and fear, to awaken us to a life we aspire to live and challenge us to make the needed changes for our future.
The word whistleblower has captured the headlines and our attention on the American political front and may have drawn attention away from a courageous girl from Sweden who is sounding the alarm on the climate. “My message,” Greta Thunberg said to those assembled at the United Nations this week, “Is that we’ll be watching you.” Her voice breaking, tears intermingling with anger, Greta blew the whistle on those who “look away”; climate change deniers or those who acknowledge the dangers but are still unwilling to make the hard but necessary changes. She takes this perspective on why so many people remain half-conscious because in her view “humans are social animals” and so they have a herd mentality. Greta on the other hand is on the autism spectrum and this leads her to not follow the typical social coding. She “goes her own way” marching to a different beat, a shofar in hand, sounding the warnings of a whistleblower.
We best listen to Greta’s clarion call because along with so many other birds and wildlife, the canary in now silent in the coal mine. To get to New York, Greta chose to cross the Atlantic via a solar powered boat. It was a massive iceberg and more importantly, human arrogance and delusion that sunk the Titanic on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. To reverse the calculus in the human contribution that sunk the Titanic, we now must set sail with a determined mission–to preserve the icebergs before they all melt. On this Rosh Hashanah let’s hearken to Greta’s message and awaken from half-consciousness.