Columns - 2005


    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    I stand before you with valor to dictate to you about the long journey that has brought us to this day and to this place, and about the long journey that lies ahead for us all.

    I am honored to be the one to address you, having been chosen by both you and by the power-that-be. I am slow of speech and tongue, and so will try to be brief. I know it's hot out here. But listen to my voice, and we'll all get outta here sooner.

    We all worked hard to get to this point. It seems like it's been four hundred years, doesn't it? All this time we slaved away, enduring hard labor and pyramid schemes. We didn't merely read, we wrote the book on Stranger in a Strange Land.

    We waited and prayed for the day when it would finally pay off. When we would be free at last to go out into the world and make lives for ourselves.

    We recall even the most recent hardships that were all around us. The golfball-size hail, followed by the mass confusion as to what exactly a golfball is.

    Then the swarms of locusts all around. Then the darkness that engulfed everyone around us just when we thought we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Just when we thought we might no longer be stuck in de Nile.

    We witnessed the many around us who really did give away their firstborn. Then we took the long, arduous trek to gather together here.

    Now, some of us got carried away in celebration here. Of course, we've earned a little happiness. But some of us were too impatient and over-indulged, getting carried away worshipping the man-made and the material while losing sight of the greater good.

    But now we all stand here. We receive here and now that special parchment that will carry us forward as the rest of our days scroll by.

    We cannot live imparshahl to this gift. We cannot be like the French and merely say "du trope." We must ensure that we are always well-versed as we start each new chapter in our lives.

    But don't be fooled by appearances. These words are not at all unpunctuated. And while there appears to be no space between these words, there's plenty between the lines.

    We cannot experience this day and just leave it behind tomorrow, as if we were merely told, "take these two tablets and call me in the morning."

    We are on the brink. We can create our own future, ensure our own destiny. Not just for ourselves, but for our children, and our children's children. And our children's children's children. And our children's children's children's children. Et cetera. And Peter Cetera. All we need is the will, and the testament.

    All this means that there is a long journey ahead of us. I do not know how long. I do not know how far. And I cannot say that we will make it there together. But we'll get there, and we'll do it on our own. We don't need to stop and ask anyone for directions.

    But there is truly a promised land out there. It's waiting for us. And even if we don't get there ourselves, our children will.

    I can't tell you too much about the place, but the brochure says they have good dairy and loads of honey. No, not mixed together.

    And who wouldn't love to settle in this place? Well, I suppose it won't do as much for the lactose intolerant. Or the diabetic. But I'm sure there's other stuff to eat. It's not like we'd wander through this wilderness just to get to a promised land that's a big old desert.

    But perhaps, because many of us might not make it there personally, we should remember that it's not merely about the destination. It's just as much about the journey, and how we live through it.

    I know you all. I am sure we will persevere every day together, maintaining our faith in what's to come, and without complaint. After all, it's not like we're ever going to starve out here or run out of water.

    In generations to come, this magnificent occasion will be commemorated. Every year around this time, when people find themselves at the end of years of hard labor, they shall gather together and receive their own parchment.

    It will be an event spanning the generations, where father will be there to witness this passage for his sons. This commemoration will usher each of them into the first days of their journeys.

    What will each day of our journey look like? I don't know. It's not like we have a map.

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley, who ten years ago this month heard his last commencement speech (from the then-recovering voice of actor Jack Klugman). For more information, past columns, and other writings, theatre, and current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.