As someone who also prefers to pen his thoughts rather than articulate them, I greatly enjoy Mordechai Schiller’s articles.
I wonder whether he can help me on the following point: In a chapter titled “Free Will” in a forthcoming book by my father, Harav Aryeh Carmell, zt”l, he writes, “This world is the scene of action. This is where we are on action stations and can earn our eternity.”
A proofreader does not recognize the phrase “action stations.” Can Mr. Schiller enlighten me (or her) on this, or suggest an American equivalent?
As to a possible alternative, would “work stations” convey the idea of individuals involved in their productive share of a greater enterprise?
Mordechai Schiller responds:
I am honored by your request.
I have never heard the expression “action stations,” but it seems to be a British military term. Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase as: “the positions taken up by military personnel in preparation for action; also used as a command or signal to prepare for action.”
Similarly, Cambridge Dictionary defines it as an “informal expression: The situation in which you are as ready as possible to perform a task you have been preparing for.”
As for workstation, OED includes a contemporary technological definition: “Originally: a desk in a workplace with a computer terminal and keyboard. Later: a computer intended for use in the workplace by one person at a time, (now) esp. a high-performance one used for scientific or technical purposes.”
To me, “action stations” carries more of the connotation of a battle station. I humbly submit that this nuance may be closer to your father’s original intention.
I cannot close without adding that I well remember when your father’s English translation of Michtav Me’Eliyahu was published. Instead of calling it simply A Letter From Eliyahu, he gave it the title Strive for Truth!
I take that as a reminder that truth is not something that comes naturally. We have to strive for it. Perhaps even take our action stations to fight for it.