Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Fifty years ago, a song was introduced that became an instant hit. It’s title, “What the World Needs Now.” It caught on for several reasons, but I believe the words ring true today more than ever. All we have to do is turn our TVs on and witness the madness that surrounds us. No longer is it necessary for the media to create sensationalism to create a following. We are the characters in an ongoing epic of melodrama and mayhem.
Read the words, listen to the melody and you will find the accurate cry of the generations past and the hope, as well as the despair, of today.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone.”
Imagine the lament of a parent who witnesses the senseless death of a child caught in the quagmire of hate. Hear the cry of people taken from their homes and indiscriminately slaughtered because their beliefs differ from their murderers. Watch the planes drop bombs on cities and dwellings causing panic and displacement. Witness the world pontificating about issues that are so far removed from reality.
Today, more than ever, we sit in our comfortable homes and stare at pictures of atrocities only read about a generation ago. The glamour of conflict has disappeared and has been replaced by the actuality of the gory details. Extremism has replaced common decency. We no longer think in terms of “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.” This has become a momentary slogan followed the next day by sameness.
Do we ever stop to think about the abundance of goodness that surrounds us? Have we really considered that the more fortunate need to be concerned about those with less? Why do we concentrate on helping others at certain seasons of the year and then forget them the other days?
Look around and we can see the beauty that was created for us to enjoy. God did not cause all this to be part of our enjoyment of life only to watch its destruction. We were given gifts for unimaginable fulfillment, and we seem to enjoy squandering rather than participating in these treasures.
Is one life worth more than the other? Do some deserve to live and others die to satisfy the living? There is enough mercy and justice for all, not just a few. Look around, if you dare. What do you see?
Our fields are now strewn with bodies. Our meadows are soaked with the blood of the innocent. The lights of heaven are clouded with the smoke of bombs and cannons. The rainbow, which was set to remind us of God’s compassion, has added a black stream in mourning for civilization’s ability to destroy rather than perpetuate. We ask God to listen to our cry, but we are the ones who are not hearing the sounds of bitterness.
During the most heinous period in human history (World War II), the question was asked, “Where was God?” And the answer given, “Where was man?” Where are we? Where are we going? We have forgotten that “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that’s there just too little of… No, not just for some, but for everyone.”