Smash the Idols We Worship

By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in The Forward on 22 April 2011

For most of us, the release from slavery described in the story of Pesach is metaphorical. We are not enslaved physically; we are rather imprisoned mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Mitzrayim, the “narrow place,” is a narrow state of mind from which we are released the moment we are willing to smash our idols.

Those 10 plagues had only as much to do with terrifying Pharaoh as they did with releasing us from the gods the Hebrews likely also worshipped in their 400-year sojourn in Egypt. Blood desecrated the god of the Nile, locusts desecrated the god of corn, darkness desecrated the god of the sun and so on. Deliverance meant abandoning those false gods.

But in today’s highly interdependent world, the very ideas that might be enslaving us metaphorically have very real repercussions for others. It is our devotion to false idols that imprisons the underclasses we never meet. Our beliefs about global markets indebt developing nations; our belief in stability over democracy promotes dictatorships; our belief in the right to bargain-priced consumer goods perpetuates oppression in China.

Expanding freedom for today’s world means breaking free of the false notions imprisoning our minds and enslaving others.