היום תשעה עשר יומים שהם שני שבועות וחמשה יומים לעמר
Today is the nineteenth day of the omer - two weeks and five days
A day of humility in a week of compassion
At the beginning of the omer count, I wrote that history will record this time as the true beginning of the 21st century. Today's news certainly supports that view.
There is the rapid spread of swine flu, with the words epidemic and pandemic being spoken with varying degrees of emphasis. It is taking the cooperation of governments throughout the world to try to contain the virus and treat all those effected.
From the Associate Press news story (bold text is mine):
"The World Health Organization's director-general, Margaret Chan, said the outbreak of the never-before-seen virus is a very serious situation and has "pandemic potential." But she said it is still too early to tell if it would become a worldwide outbreak.However you feel about the efficacy of what is being done, at least it is being handled on a global level early in the process. Compare that with the impenetrable blindfolds our world leaders wore for far too many years at the start of the AIDs crisis in the 1980s.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon said his government only discovered the nature of the virus late Thursday, with the help of international laboratories. "We are doing everything necessary," he said in a brief statement."
And then there was the news of Pennsylvania US Senator Arlen Spector switching his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. The political landscape in the United States is going through a change that could rival the 1960s political switch of the Southern states during the Lyndon Johnson administration. Can this be the beginning of the end of the Republican Party? Like the Whigs of the 19th century, will they self-destruct into factions, dividing between the Democratic party and some others, yet to be formed? As it is said, only time will tell.
But that time starts now; the 21st century is not the future---it is here.