Our advanced civilization has aptly been described as the disposable society. This is prominently manifest in the plethora of items designed for one time use. Undoubtedly, this has provided an immeasurable benefit in the realms of hygienic food production and sanitary medical supplies. Many harmful diseases have been limited by the introduction of disposable gloves and needles. Likewise scores of viruses have been restricted by the use of plastic cutlery and foil pans.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not constrained to the physical but has spread to other aspects of humanity. A “throw-away” culture dominates further dimensions of our lives. For example, when a relationship starts to falter and parties start to drift, there is a tendency to flee the situation by dumping the other partner. Rather than face up to their differences and try to work things out, they treat their loved one like a “used disposable barbecue” which is vehemently discarded when slightly sullied.
This is regrettable. A permanent scar is created. Where there were feelings of love, there are now feelings of hate. Additionally, their emotional development has been curtailed, as a relationship can actually grow from the arguments and discord, eventually forming a deeper and stronger bond.
On the other hand there are people who take the opposing model to the extreme. They cannot bear to throw out or part with anything. With a pack-rat mentality they store useless items and struggle to cope with the growing clutter. They expend more money and energy in washing plastic cups, than it would take to procure a new pack. Even within valued business and emotional relationships there are occasions when the correct thing to do is to part company.
In reality a balance needs to be struck between knowing when it is appropriate to discard and when something needs to be saved. There are instances when every effort has to be exerted to defend and preserve. Nothing stands starker than Hashem’s treatment of Noach’s generation. The world was brutally decadent. Humanity had reached its nadir. It was time for a fresh start. Yet Hashem did not send Noach to Heaven and obliterate the universe, even though this might seem like the most logical solution. The world was defunct, Noach was a righteous man, let us give him his due reward, destroy Earth and create a replacement. But Hashem chose to keep the world, even employing miraculous wonders of the Ark – which have never been duplicated – to ensure the survival of the planet.
This has developed an advantage for us humans living today. New lessons can be learned which were unavailable before the Flood and we are empowered by this epic occurrence. Firstly, we are more keenly aware of Hashem’s involvement in the affairs of man, punishing the wicked and saving the righteous. Secondly, we have evidence of His deep love in sustaining humankind, even if means resorting to the supernatural. G-d is willing to use extreme measures to ensure the continuity of civilization.