A man on our tour bus asked his wife if she had noticed the traffic lights in Jerusalem flashed yellow before they turned green.
“What?” she asked. “I think it’s your imagination,” and then, “Only you would notice something like that.”
She was wrong, as evidenced by the lively discussion to follow among fellow travelers. It was not his imagination and most of us liked the idea of having a heads-up to precede a green light.
It would save a lot of horn honking, we decided. No more missed lights, less driver irritation and more timely traffic flow were among the benefits we postulated.
As Americans, I think we were just a little surprised to recognize the Israelis were ahead of us in this innovation, simply because they seem to be preoccupied with more important things like staying alive, defending their borders and growing food in the desert.
We might do well to realize all sorts of innovative thought is taking place in the world. What a novel idea: America is not always on the cutting edge.
I grew up thinking Our Great Nation was always on the side of right; she was going to win; her politicians told the truth (as opposed to the Soviets who couldn’t be trusted); her press reported the whole truth and nothing but; we were smart; we were blessed and God was on our side.
In today’s world, we have to acknowledge our kids are fat; they’re no longer the sharpest knives in the drawer; our politicians are as oily as politicians everywhere; our press is biased; we have terrible weather disasters and there is no longer any particular reason God should be on our side.
This is sad. It’s sort of like having to admit we are middle-aged, gray and saggy, our memories are no longer so keen and we made a C on our history test. It is an inconvenient truth.
I could work myself into a funk, thinking like this. I could be labeled a “whiney britches” by people in the rural South. I might even lose hope for the future.
Or I could live in denial, insisting our nation is still the greatest on earth, God-ordained to save the world. I could even put forth the hypothesis all those negative reports are lies from the Liberal media.
I will elect, instead, to accept the awkward new reality and do the best I can with it.
If we see innovation or truth in other countries, if they have discovered a better way, what’s so bad about emulating their way? I mean if a lady in my Bible study group has found a new way to peel boiled eggs, why would I not try it?
Maybe California’s engineers need to study in Israeli schools to learn about water conservation and efficient use of solar power. America’s military commanders might learn a few things about tactical deployment and how to do more with less. From people growing bananas in the desert, our farmers could surely learn about organic methods and irrigation.
Maybe the Scottish Highlanders could teach us the benefits of raising sheep. Who knows what we could learn from the Chinese and the Germans? Confounded, new-fangled traffic lights!