About the story of Alex Findlay and the difficult option / Sobre la historia de Alex Findlay y la opción difícil

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Siempre he pensado que hay dos opciones en esta vida: la fácil y la difícil.

 

Todo el mundo busca un status quo, un perímetro en el que sentirse seguros y controlados. El kibbutz era sin duda la opción fácil. Un lugar en el que no te preocupas de nada. Un lugar en el que no hace falta demostrar que eres más que nade porque todos son iguales.

 

Supongo que los seres humanos nos dividimos en dos tipos: conformistas e inconformistas. Cuando los primeros kibbutzs comenzaron a surgir en los años 30, las primeras generaciones eran claramente inconformistas. Judíos venidos de todas partes del mundo que creían en el modelo socialista, muchos de ellos en la cooperación entre árabes y judíos. La gente de mi kibbutz solía decirme que antes de la Guerra de la Independencia (1948) había buenas relaciones entre los dos pueblos, relaciones que empezaron a romperse cuando la guerra estalló y los árabes de los poblados colindantes fueron expulsados o huyeron (la historia varía si es contada por un palestino o por un judío).

 

Más tarde los religiosos ortodoxos, rusos, ultrarreligiosos comenzaron a llegar al país sumidodo en un sinnúmero de guerras. Fue así como los primeros movimientos sionistas de izquierdas fueron mutando a la derecha, o ultraderecha, que es la facción que gobierna el país actualmente.

 

Ahora los kibbutzim ya no son lo que eran, ya no hay ideología, socialismo, pasión por construir unos valores de igualdad. Poco a poco se están convirtiendo en sociedades o vecindarios privados que buscan el beneficio de sus miembros, su confort, y su status quo. Ein-Hashofet es uno de los 30 kibbutzims que conservas su estructura socialista. Pese a ello, debates internos y presiones de los nuevos kibbutzniks harán que  en el futuro se privatice, como el resto. La opción difícil se convirtió en la fácil. Y el activismo de los kibbutz de los años 30, quienes engendraron el Estado de Israel, acabó convirtiéndose en una burbuja apartada de las ciudades con una vida cómoda y sencilla, huyendo de complicaciones. Una vieja estructura socialista que beneficia a sus miembros porque asegura sus necesidades básicas carente de ideología.

 

En cuanto a mí, yo siempre buscaba la opción difícil. Queramos o no eso tiene consecuencias. Partiendo de la base de que todos nuestros actos producen una reacción. Una de ellas es sin duda las secuelas de los momentos que hemos vivido y el cambio que generan en nuestra personalidad. Cuando uno decide volverse inconformista ya no puede volver atrás, ya no puede volver a tener una vida tranquila y sin complicaciones porque le parecerá vacía. Vacía de vida. El sentimiento de vacío conduce a la frustración, a sentirse culpable por no haber escogido la opción difícil, por no haberse retado a autosuperarse, a pelear con garras por lo que siente, vive y cree.  

 

Siempre he comparado la opción fácil y la difícil con las dos pastillas que Morfeo ofrece al protagonista de Matrix. La roja es ver la realidad y la azul seguir viviendo en la burbuja en la que hemos nacido. Si has escogido tomar la pastilla roja, ver, oler y sentir aquello que no es parte de tu burbuja, tu vida se pincha como un globo, y el aire que forma parte de tu esencia se disgrega por todos lados.

 

 Animo a todos mis lectores a que persigan la opción difícil, a que encuentren un proyecto de vida que les motive, que quieran luchar por él. Una lucha cuya recompensa no es el dinero, ni los bienes materiales, sino la satisfacción personal de crear algo propio, algo con vida, algo que nos motiva a levantarnos cada mañana.

 

Esta es la continuación de la historia de Alex Findlay, un surafricano que decidió dejar todo lo que tenía para irse a vivir a Ein-Hashofet Kibbutz. Él también escogió romper su burbuja. La historia está escrita con sus palabras en inglés. Me gustaría que todos los lectores la tradujeran usando Google Translate. Considero que hoy en día el inglés es un idioma básico que todos debemos aprender.

 

Todo depende de si escogemos la opción fácil o la difícil. La pastilla roja o la azul.

 

 

The story of Alex Findlay. A young South African who works in Eltam, a factory of Ein-Hashofet Kibbutz 


«From a personal perspective, I was at a serious crossroad: On one hand, if I chose a government career situated off the kibbutz, nobody in the community would know who I was in the beginning and things would not start out positively; yet on the other hand, if I took a job on the kibbutz, my wife and I could go through the process of absorption without a guarantee of being accepted as Kibbutz members at the end of the two year process. Ultimately, it was a career decision for me as a discharged veteran and Galit – who was nearly two years steadily employed at the local council school – said that she’d support me regardless of the choice I made. We both concluded that if there was a chance to raise our children on this particular kibbutz; with its value system, society and environment, we should take it!

 

Being absorbed into Ein Hashofet is a process that takes at least two years. Applicants must first approach the Absorption Committee and undergo a psychological evaluation from a professional service at the expense of the kibbutz. After we did so, we were interviewed by the aforementioned committee, consisting of eight senior kibbutz members responsible for absorbing new members. The majority of them agreed to accept Galit and I on the kibbutz conditional to the majority of kibbutz members voting positively for us at the next «General Meeting.» We have two more elections at the end of each year to undergo and both myself and Galit need a 66% majority from the voting members in order to be accepted into the next stage and finally into membership.

 

So far, everything has gone positively during our first year of the process. We are entitled to all of the rights and benefits accorded to kibbutz members. So far, we are waiting for a vacancy for a house on the kibbutz and within a year or so, we hope to leave our three room apartment. Education is free and our daughter is a popular addition to the nursery and we also have access to the car pool. The kibbutz system basically worries about everything else on our behalf (social security, Israel’s numerous taxes, medical insurance etc). Galit’s salary as a teacher comes into the kibbutz and we live off an allowance to purchase what we need.

 

ELTAM, a company on the kibbutz which produces lighting products, has employed me as a machine operator and the salary that would have gone to me –had I not been part of the kibbutz community– goes to Ein Hashofet instead. Bearing this in mind, many kibbutz companies members in managerial positions; this would result in a kibbutz keeping the salary of someone from its own community who occupies the position of a department head. However, a kibbutz that tried to cut a corner by putting someone unsuitable to a job would end up losing business and more money in the long run than what the salary was actually worth. I am proud to say that my company, ELTAM aims to put the right person in the right place: There are people both from the kibbutz itself and from the outside community who fulfil a variety of roles from the technical, business and the managerial aspects. My personal aspiration within the company is to eventually move to sales and marketing but that is still some way in the future.

 

The various factories and institutions on the kibbutz adhere to standard Israeli Labour Practice and one is required to work 45 hours a week before overtime is included into the equation if one is under pension age.

 

In the old days of the standard socialist system, kibbutz members would have to work the required hours per week in their day jobs and do 80 hours of chores throughout the year somewhere else on the kibbutz –in my case, the dairy. Some people abuse this system; they clock in at the factory on time, go home to sleep a couple of hours, do laundry, shop and truly shirk their responsibilities. These people are referred to colloquially, by kibbutzniks nationwide I might add, as parasites. Others would have to work more hours and do more chores to pick up the slack of the parasites. A kibbutz will not revoke the membership of someone unless it is under extreme circumstances (like committing a schedule 1 crime such as murder or armed robbery). One can only then ask: How can a socialist community –aiming at an equality based society, deal with parasitism?

 

By the time that we arrived on the picture, and the rules for labour were explained to us; a new system had been put in place. People get paid for chores and for overtime, so those who work more, get more. They system is even considering lowering the allowances of people who work less. It seems more like an incentivised arrangement than it was in the past and as one who abides by this system, I find it fair and acceptable.

 

I think that were it the kibbutz of the past and our children would not be allowed to stay at home with us – neither my wife nor I would consider membership. Furthermore, kibbutzim seem to change with the social and economic times of Israel, with more and more of these communities heading towards privatisation. This in itself is a topic for further debate and one which I do not know enough about to comment on.

 

The sense of support and community one feels whilst living on a kibbutz is incomparable to other societies in my opinion. Certainly, we are all individuals and have our differences, but this doesn’t appear to me as some communal ideology whereby nobody is considered special. Instead, it appears to me as one in which everyone is considered special and unique. Despite having a general manger, most processes in this particular socialist society are governed by the people themselves in the form of committees and votes so that major decisions are made by the will of the majority. The people in this community actually try and help one another, such as new residents being adopted by the more veteran residents. I cannot write about the kibbutz and not mention how a kibbutz couple adopted my wife and I, introducing us bit by bit into the community and supporting us whenever they could. Or how people came to babysit and help my wife when she put her back out. These are but a few examples of the many instances of support and kindness which we have experienced.

 

In conclusion, I think that as a young family, we have made the right choice in moving to Ein Hashofet and applying for membership. I would like to thank readers for their interest in this article and hope that I have helped to clarify what life is really like here. Also, I would like to extend a big thanks to Iara, for coming to our country and seeing the bigger picture objectively and not from a pre-conceived set of expectations».