Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

United with Israel: How Facebook Can Actually ‘Bring the World Closer Together’

The largest portal United with Israel published my open letter to Mark Zuckerberg “How Facebook Can Actually ‘Bring the World Closer Together‘”:

This is an open letter and proposal to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO.

Dear Mark,

Your new mission for Facebook, “to bring the world closer together,” is refreshing news to hear about. It indicates the meaningful insight you have acquired as to the unhealthy state of our world and what it needs in order to heal. Despite today’s alarmingly widening divisions in human society, I do not see many influential players aiming to address the issue at its core and directing their energies and resources to bringing people closer together.

As someone who has dedicated the last 40 years to the research and practice of nurturing human connections, I am certain that this is the inevitable future of the world. My daily experience in fostering connected communities of people from all of the world’s religions and ethnicities has proven to me that the only way to build a better world is to unlock the natural human capacity to unite above differences.

So, when someone like you, who commands a major portion of humanity’s virtual infrastructure, declares bringing people together as a mission for the next decade, it gives me hope that we might just be able to orient the world towards unity with less chaos and suffering than could otherwise be expected. This is why I feel obliged to offer you my insight into the natural human capacity for connection and where the world is going in that regard.

The World Is Changing Course

Your observation that the world’s challenges are global in nature and cannot be met by a single leader, country, or a top-down structure, is accurate. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are moving towards a perilous turning point in our social evolution: Current power structures are gradually collapsing before our eyes, while new ones are not yet in place.

Politicians are losing their reins while growing increasingly detached from their people. In an interdependent world, current politics becomes an outdated game, as it necessitates its players to continuously immerse themselves in egoistic power struggles to maintain dominance. It is an environment that is simply unfit to safeguard the interests of the public, regardless of who the leaders are. In many countries, people see a broader and more pragmatic picture of reality than their political leadership and are beginning to raise their sights higher.

In parallel, the current foundations of socioeconomics are shaking as automation and artificial intelligence are spreading through the workforce. As you well know, the jobs of the near future are uncertain and some form of a universal basic income is likely to become a necessity. With this, profound changes are expected regarding the notions of “work,” social class structure, and the collective ethos of Western culture.

Under the hood, economics and politics are mere reflections of human relations. They represent what we give to and receive from society, how we make decisions and solve problems, how we distribute responsibilities and prioritize collective interests. It is the relationship between human beings across the planet that is on the cusp of evolution: Exploitive relations and self-centered perceptions are reaching maximum capacity; mutual concern and a more holistic perception will shape the world of tomorrow.

A Virtual Gym for Community-Building

As stated in your mission, we must empower people to build strong communities. To do that, we have to provide knowledge and guidance on how to continuously nurture and increase our capacity for human connection, in addition to providing the technological tools and infrastructure that help people organize.

For instance, you have mentioned the importance of helping people find common ground before they approach their differences or aim to solve common challenges. We need to establish virtual communication practices that will encourage this. And just as people have gotten used to thinking about how many “likes” they got for their posts, they can get used to thinking about how much they made their community more connected.

Seeing our common humanity is much like a muscle that needs to be trained. Today’s culture is numbing that muscle by pressing on our primal, egoistic impulses and perpetuating divisiveness. Therefore, community members should routinely work on strengthening their ties and maintaining a social climate of healthy, positive connections.

To assist them, they also need collective measurements and feedback for their combined efforts to maintain a positive climate. Artificial intelligence could certainly be utilized to make the virtual community environment a facilitator of healthy human relations. In other words, it would be a virtual gym for community-building.

From a global perspective, such positive Facebook communities could also serve as models to help us learn how to build our future society. As the world becomes more interdependent, people will have to expand their circle of concern. But preaching moral values no longer works. Instead, we need to enhance our social sensitivity, broaden our worldview, better understand our nature as human beings, and, most importantly, learn how to tap into our inherent wiring for human connection.

My Proposal: A Pilot Program

I propose setting up a pilot program for the creation of a virtual community that is actively nurturing positive connections. Its members could be diverse people from all walks of life who would be interested in participating in such a social experiment.
While there could be a vast array of features considered for future implementation, from my experience, I am certain that by simply following a few guidelines and communication practices, immediate positive results would be seen.

As I’m sure you know, multiple fields of research have repeatedly shown that positive social connections make us happier, healthier, and better at what we do. I project that within a matter of months, participants in such a pilot program would experience similar positive effects in a noticeable way, which we could empirically measure.

Should you be interested, I would be more than happy to collaborate in designing such a pilot program and share the experience I have gathered over many years, building a network of both physical and virtual communities joined by people from all walks of life.

Yours,
Michael Laitman
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My Articles In The Media, May 2017

In English

The Jerusalem Post

Comment: Is Judaism Racism?
The Israeli Campfire
A Memo to President Trump
Things That You’re Liable to Read in the Torah — They Ain’t Necessarily So

Haaretz:

What This Means for Jews When Austria’s President Says All Women Will Wear Headscarves
Independence Means Independence From Mutual Hatred
The Fire of Hatred, the Fire of Love
The Fundamental Flaw Behind the Cyber Attack
A Few Words to the President
What Our Ancestors Knew That We Don’t, and Why This Is Important Especially Today

Jewish Business News:

Michael Laitman: The Fundamental Flaw Behind the Cyber Attack
Michael Laitman: What Our Ancestors Knew that We Don’t, And Why This is Important Especially Today

In French

The Times of Israel:

La deuxième révolution française
Est-ce que le judaïsme est du racisme?
On ne doit pas nécessairement se fier à l’apparence de ce qu’on peut lire dans la Torah
Michael Laitman: Lettre ouverte au Président Trump

Dreuz:

Alors Que Chavouot la Fête du don de la Torah est tout près souvenons nous que la vraie signification de la torah est l’amour d’autrui” 
L’autriche s’ouvre sur le monde (islamique)
Lag BaOmer: le feu de la haine le feu de lamour” 
La faute fondamentale derrière la dernière cyberattaque”
Le temps est venu de démystifier les idées fausses sur la Torah”
Alors que Chavouot la fête du don de la Torah est tout près souvenons nous que la vraie significa

In Spanish

BlogActive:

La fogata israeli
El presidente de austria dice que todas las mujeres llevaran pañuelo en la cabeza. Qué significa esto para los judíos?
Mensaje para el presidente Trump
El gran fallo detrás del ataque informático
Las cosas que uno puede leer en la Torá no non necesariamente así

United With Israel:

La fogata israeli
Las cosas que uno puede leer en la Tora no son necesariamente así

In German

Huffington Post:

Feuer des Hasses, Feuer der Liebe
Eine Notiz an Präsident Trump

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JPost: “Comment: Between Dershowitz And Stone, Dershowitz Is Pointlessly Correct“

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “Comment: Between Dershowitz And Stone, Dershowitz Is Pointlessly Correct

To change people’s feelings about Jews, we must approach with honesty the trope that if anything goes wrong, it’s the Jews’ fault.Share on facebook Share on twitter

Screenwriter, film director, and producer Oliver Stone is a cultural icon. He has won multiple Academy Awards and has contributed to the making of dozens of iconic films that have helped shape our views on war, love, politics, and other weighty matters. Oliver Stone is also an antisemite.

Alan Dershowitz is a lawyer, an author, a gifted speaker, and a cultural icon in his own right. Alan Dershowitz is also a staunch supporter of Israel. When Dershowitz heard that Stone had blamed Israel of meddling with the recent US election, he challenged Stone to a debate about whether or not there was truth to his statement.

Mr. Dershowitz has been making the case for Israel for many years, and his support is heartwarming and impressive. In 2005 he conducted an epic debate with Jewish Israel basher Noam Chomsky at Harvard University, and he works tirelessly to support Israel on every front.

Still, judging by the exponential growth in antisemitism in the US and around the world in recent years, these efforts have had zero impact. However reasonable the arguments, they will never taper antisemitism because hatred needs no reasonable arguments to justify itself.

Jew-Hatred Makes No Sense

Throughout history, Jew-hatred has worn different attires at different times. Jews have been accused of poisoning wells, baking matzos with the blood of Christian (and now Muslim) children, warmongering, usury, slave trading, conspiring to dominate the world, and spreading disease (from the Black Death to Ebola). Jews have also been accused of manipulating the media to their needs, disloyalty to their host countries, harvesting organs, and spreading AIDS.

Moreover, Jews are often accused of conflicting “crimes.” Communists accused them of creating capitalism; capitalists accused them of inventing communism. Christians accused Jews of killing Jesus, while dissidents of the church accused Jews of inventing Christianity. Jews have been labeled as warmongers and cowards, racists and cosmopolitans, spineless and unbending, and countless other contradictions.

Clearly, Jew-hatred is irrational and deep.

To change people’s feelings about Jews and the nation state of the Jews, namely Israel, we must appeal to their feelings, to their hearts, and not to their minds. To do that, we must address the old trope to which Dershowitz referred in the post I mentioned earlier: if anything went wrong, it’s the Jews’ fault.

Hatred from Without and from Within

As is evident by the irrationality of Jew-hatred, the Jews are not an ordinary nation. Since its inception, its most prominent proponents have been the target of aggression and enmity. Abraham was thrown into a furnace after his own father, Terah, brought him to be tried by the king. Terah did not protest the verdict. Joseph was thrown into a pit full of snakes and then sold to slavery by his own brothers after they relinquished their initial plan to assassinate him. Moses was chased by his adopted grandfather, Pharaoh, and was often criticized by his own people.

After Moses, when the people of Israel were established as a nation, they suffered internal conflicts that were just as bad, if not worse, than the enemies they encountered from the outside. The First Temple was ruined due to idol-worship, incest, and bloodshed. Even before it was ruined, the Hebrew kings Ahaz and Hezekiah both looted the Temple and handed over its treasures to foreign kings.

At the time of the Second Temple, Hellenists—Jews who wanted to install the Greek culture and belief in Israel—hated their brethren so fiercely that they fought them to the death instead of the Greeks.

In the end, self-hatred inflicted the ruin of the Second Temple and an exile that lasted two millennia. Worse yet, Tiberius Julius Alexander—commander of the Roman armies that conquered Jerusalem, ruined the Temple, and exiled its people—was an Alexandrian Jew whose own father had donated the gold and silver for the Temple gates. In fact, before Tiberius Alexander stormed Jerusalem, he had obliterated his native community of Alexandria, causing “the whole district [to be] deluged with blood as 50,000 corpses were heaped up,” according to Jewish-Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus.

In my previous column, I mentioned more of the countless cases where Jews turned against their own people. It turns out that we are unique not only in the relentless, irrational hatred we suffer from without, but also in the profound odium that Jews feel and display toward their own brethren. This begs the question: What is it about Jews that makes them the object of such pervasive loathing?

Who Is a Jew?

The book Yaarot Devash (Part 2, Drush no. 2) writes that the word Yehudi (Jew) comes from the Hebrew word yihudi, meaning united. When Abraham the Patriarch first established his group, he did so on the backdrop of an outburst of egoism in the Babylonian Empire where he was born. The book Pirkei De Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter of Rabbi Eliezer) describes how the builders of the Tower of Babylon “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took his sword and they fought each other to the death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

To help the Babylonians, Abraham developed a method for connecting people. He realized that selfishness was intensifying faster than people could contain it. Therefore, instead of trying to restrain their egos, Abraham suggested that they shift their focus to connection. In this way, he hoped his countryfolk would rise above their egoism and connect.

Although Abraham was expelled from Babylon (having survived being thrown into the furnace), he continued to circulate his views as he wandered toward the Land of Israel. Gradually, writes Maimonides in Mishneh Torah (Chapter 1), Abraham, together with his wife, Sarah, gathered tens of thousands of people, all versed in uniting above their egos.

This special characteristic of Abraham’s students—to make unity and brotherhood the means as well as the end—became the essence of Judaism. This is why Old Hillel told the man who wanted to convert: “That which you hate, do not do unto your neighbor; this is the whole of the Torah” (Shabbat, 31a), and why Rabbi Akiva asserted, “Love your neighbor as yourself; this is the great rule of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim, 30b).

We became a nation only when we vowed to be “as one man with one heart,” and immediately after, we were commanded to be “a light unto nations”—to circulate our special unity to all. Just as Abraham intended to do in Babylon, when he wished to spread unity indiscriminately, we were commanded to be a light unto all the nations—to spread unity throughout the world.

Therefore, our nationhood consists of two tenets: 1) to be united as one man with one heart, 2) to share the method for achieving unity with all of humanity. If we do not abide by these two rules, we are not Jewish.

Since these two principles have been the essence of our peoplehood since its inception, any accusation that the Jews are inflicting harm upon the world, such as the trope that Dershowitz mentioned—that if anything goes wrong, it is the Jews’ fault—is a (usually unconscious) statement that the Jews are not Jews. In other words, they are not projecting unity and brotherhood, but rather the opposite.

In some cases, the sensation of antisemites that Jewish egoism is the problem is so intense that they can even verbalize it. German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach wrote in The Essence of Christianity: “The Jews have maintained their peculiarity to this day. Their principle, their God, is the most practical principle in the world—namely egoism.”

If this is what we are projecting, is it any wonder we are hated? We may have given ourselves amnesty from the “verdict” of being “a light unto nations,” but the nations have never given this to us. Their accusations, the high moral standards by which they judge Israel and the Jews, their admiration and their fear speak for themselves. It will not help us if we try to be like them; they will not accept us as such. We have been, are, and always will be expected to be a beacon of unity, “a light unto nations.”

Until we unite above our hatred just as our ancestors did millennia ago, we will continue to be the world’s only pariahs.

No compelling argument, conclusive proof, or hard evidence will convince the Oliver Stones in the world that they are wrong. In their hearts, they know that they are right—that Jews are to blame for every bad thing that happens. For Mr. Stone, that bad thing is the election of Donald Trump as president. But even before Trump was elected, Stone found reasons to dislike Jews, proving once again that hatred will cling to any pretext to justify itself, regardless of objective truths.

Therefore, if we truly want to oust antisemitism, we must do the thing we want the least: unite with our brethren to the tribe—our fellow Jews—above all of our disputes, alienation, and hatred.
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Jewish Business News, “Will The US Become A Nation Of The Idle Young?”

In my regular column in Jewish Business News, my new article: “Will The US Become A Nation Of The Idle Young?

At a time of high unemployment and reluctance to work, basic income contingent upon nurturing solidarity is paramount.

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Haaretz: “Forget Paris—the Unsuspected Culprit Behind Global Warming”

In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “Forget Paris—the Unsuspected Culprit Behind Global Warming

When a pack of Earth-polluting wolves bleat like sheep led to the slaughter over CO2 emissions, look for an ulterior motive.

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My Articles In The Media, April 2017

In English

The Jerusalem Post

The Second French Revolution
The Key Role of Jews in the Trump Administration
Trump Must Initiate Next Stage of ‘America First’ Policy
Passover — A Story of Hebrews Who Wanted To Be Egyptians
Exodus – The Secret of Our Nationhood

Haaretz

The Holocaust From Memory to Premonition
What’s Next for France?
Independence Means Independence From Mutual Hatred
How Trump Can Drain the Swamp
Thirty-Five Centuries Later, It’s Still Pharaoh vs. Moses
Connection: Something New on the Seder Menu
Exodus—How We Became a Nation, and How We Stopped Being One

Jewish Business News

Michael Laitman: Uniting the States for a Great America in Trump’s Era
Michael Laitman: Exodus—the Secret of Our Nationhood

In Spanish

United with Israel

Trump debe iniciar una nueva etapa en la política americana
El faraón contra Moisés, treinta y cinco siglos después
Éxodo: el secreto de nuestra nación
La felicidad (que quisiéramos tener) en nosotros
¡Buenas noticias! Ya se puede hablar de antisemitismo en América
La levadura que debemos eliminar es el auto-odio judío

In French

Dreuz.info

Le rôle déterminant des juifs dans l’administration Trump
L’holocauste : du souvenir à la prémonition
Trump doit amorcer le prochain niveau de la politique de « L’Amérique d’abord »
Trente-cinq siècles plus tard, c’est encore Pharaon vs Moïse

In German

The Huffington Post

Hungernde Menschen machen die UNO fett
Trump muss die nächste Stufe von „America First” einleiten
Israel – das geliebte Land, das alle verlassen wollen

In Italian

The Huffington Post

È ora che Trump dia inizio alla prossima fase della politica, l'”America First”
La felicità che vorremmo avere è quella che in realtà abbiamo già
Israele è il paese che tutti amano, così tanto da volersene andare

Blogactiv – in multiple languages

Shoah: dal ricordo alla premonizione
¿Qué va a pasar en Francia?
Il ruolo chiave degli ebrei nell’Amministrazione Trump
È ora che Trump dia inizio alla prossima fase della politica “America First”
Trump debe iniciar una nueva etapa en la política americana
Trump Must Initiate Next Stage of America First Policy
El faraón contra Moisés, treinta y cinco siglos después
Dopo trentacinque secoli il Faraone è ancora contro Mosè
Éxodo: el secreto de nuestra nación
Connessione: qualcosa di nuovo sul menu del Seder
Esodo: come siamo diventati una nazione e come abbiamo smesso di essere Uno
L’odio interno del popolo ebraico è il lievito che dobbiamo eliminare
La felicità che vorremmo avere è quella che in realtà abbiamo già
La connexion : un nouveau plat au menu du Seder
Exodus—How We Became a Nation, and How We Stopped Being One
I nostri peggiori nemici
La levadura que debemos eliminar es el auto-odio judío

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JPost: “The Pillars Of Consumerism Are Crumbling“

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “The Pillars Of Consumerism Are Crumbling

What happens when jobs and stores disappear? What will we buy and how will we buy it? Luckily, a new industry will provide both income and a new commodity to consume.

The pillars of consumerism are crumbling. For the past several months, there has been a landslide of large and midsize brick-and-mortar retail chain stores that have either filed for bankruptcy or announced the closing of hundreds of stores. If this pace continues, by the end of this year, over 8,600 brick-and- mortar stores will have closed their doors. By comparison, in 2008, at the height of the Great Recession, only 6,150 stores shut down.

Beyond the impact of the collapse on the retailers themselves, their disappearance will have a devastating effect on the malls where they are located, as these are all anchor stores that bring business to the entire mall. In some cases, retailers such as Macy’s and Sears (which also owns Kmart) will shut their doors within the same mall, effectively causing the closure of the entire venue.

The blight is also taking a toll on jobs. As more and more people turn to the internet to do their shopping, stores close and people lose their jobs. According to Labor Department figures, retailers slashed around 30,000 positions in March. That was about the same total as in February, marking the worst two-month showing since 2009.

The rapid growth of e-commerce may be great for online businesses such as Amazon, but e-commerce does not require nearly as many jobs as do brick-and- mortar stores. The grim conclusion is that as far as traditional retail jobs are concerned, we are seeing the end of an era.

Are We Becoming Irrelevant?

Not only retail stores are affected by technology. Machines are replacing people everywhere. There are two million professional drivers in the US. Where will they work 10 to 15 years from now, when autonomous trucks and buses become safer to drive and cheaper to operate than vehicles driven by humans? What will call-center workers do when chatbots completely replace people in a few years? Waiters, cleaners, hotel service people, even doctors and lawyers, everyone is going to be affected by advancements in technology.

A reader’s comment in one of the newspaper stories about the trend captures the essence of our shifting world: “These stories make me feel irrelevant. Where is humanity going? You get into a car that drives itself, it takes you to work, but a robot took your job. Luckily, I am receiving Basic Income from the government. In that case, why don’t I go to the mall? Oh, right, the mall has shut down because we do all our shopping online and drones deliver the products to our doorstep, so even the delivery people have vanished. In fact, I have no reason to walk out the door. I haven’t spoken to a real person in months! Soon, we will all become irrelevant, redundant!”

Introducing Universal Basic Income

In recent years, there has been much ado over the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI means that every person receives a fixed sum of money that sustains you above the poverty line whether or not you are employed. In many places around the world, primarily in Western Europe and Canada, experiments on the impact and feasibility of UBI are already underway.

The idea of UBI is also gaining traction thanks to the vocal support of bigwigs at Silicon Valley. Elon Musk, for example, said, “It’s going to be necessary,” and Mark Zuckerberg stated, “We should explore ideas like universal basic income.”

A New Set of Jobs and Industries—Around the Heart

I am totally and utterly against the idea of UBI. If we give people free money, it will devastate society and will turn many of them into ticking bombs. The tragic incident that happened on June 5 in Orlando, where a man who had recently been fired walked into his previous workplace with a handgun, murdered five former coworkers, then committed suicide should teach all of us what might happen to a person who sees no future ahead of him.

Violence is already rampant and growing in our society. Sending off millions of people with nothing to do and with no commitments will drive many of them off the deep end, and we will all suffer the consequences.

In my view, the onset of the robotic era is a great opportunity for all of humanity. Since machines will be taking our physical jobs, we will be free to develop what The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called “a whole new set of jobs and industries around the heart, around connecting people to people.”

In other words, people will not be unemployed. They will be employed as innovators of a new society. Their job will be to foster a society whose members are connected, caring, and feel responsible for one another.

Today, people are admired for their successful careers. Yet, tomorrow machines will be running everything. Competition over jobs will be obsolete; there will be no jobs to fight over. Therefore, the job of the new workers will be to introduce new values into society, where people will compete over recognition as contributors to society.

Positive competition will change the entire mindset of society. We are all envious beings. But when we envy people for their ability to promote society instead of their ability to promote themselves, we ourselves become positive elements in society. In this way, all of society will change direction from isolation to connection.

Shopping Centers Turned Community Centers

The industries of the heart will “manufacture” social cohesion. People will not receive UBI, but salaries, just as they do in today’s job market. The only difference will be in the product they will be making.

There is no end to what people can do if they want to benefit society. Creativity will be unlimited, and the more technology improves, the more people will be able to engage in pro- social jobs and the more possibilities to promote society will open up.

The conditions for creating the change are already in the making. According to a new report from Credit Suisse, between 20% to 25% of the nation’s shopping malls will close in the next five years, as e-commerce continues to draw shoppers away from bricks-and- mortar retailers.

Instead of becoming crime-breeding zones, as is happening today, they can easily be transformed into centers for training in the new pro-social work.

As I see it, every person who becomes unemployed should not receive unemployment benefits, but be enrolled in these trainings right away, and receive a salary just as in any other job. Instead of sitting at home feeling miserable, recently fired people should receive benefits from the state contingent upon their participation in the pro-social trainings. At the end of the training, or even during, they will launch their new careers as innovators of the new society.

The Technology of Connection

The technologies for nurturing pro-social attitudes in entire communities already exist. Round Table events and Connection Circles are two ways that I have elaborated on in my book Completing the Circle: An empirically proven method for finding peace and harmony in life.

They have been tried numerous times in the US, Western and Eastern Europe, and Israel, all with resounding success. When implemented correctly, these technologies not only create an atmosphere of warmth and sociability, but also promote the understanding that this is how society should maintain itself if we want to feel safe and happy in our neighborhoods. With the advent of the jobless era, the social paradigm shift will become a necessity.

However, thanks to online technologies, this shift can be done at minimal cost. Moreover, the expenses that will be saved as people’s current anti-social attitude is reversed will far outweigh the cost of the trainings, making them lucrative business for investors.

When a community unites, violence, crime, and substance abuse all drop, and mutual responsibility, mutual assistance, and friendliness emerge. This frees tremendous amounts of resources that would otherwise be used on policing and welfare workers trying to mitigate crises. Therefore, even from the most capitalistic viewpoint, pro-social attitudes in the community pay off.

The sooner the governments, or states, implement these programs for the unemployed, the greater will be their profits, both socially and financially, and the greater will be the benefits to our entire society.
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Jewish Business News: “Forget Paris—The Unsuspected Culprit Behind Global Warming”

In my regular column in Jewish Business News, my new article: “Forget Paris—The Unsuspected Culprit Behind Global Warming

Global warming is happening, and this can have severe consequences on humanity. However, there is no conclusive evidence that CO2 is the primary culprit

When a pack of Earth-polluting wolves bleat like sheep led to the slaughter over CO2 emissions, look for an ulterior motive.

Last week, President Trump withdrew the United States from one of the worst deals it ever made: the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement required the US to cut its CO2 emissions by 26-28 percent by the year 2025. In addition, the accord states that the US will transfer 3 billion US dollars to the United Nations Green Climate Fund by that same year, 1 billion of which it has already transferred.

There is no doubt that global warming is happening, and there is no doubt that this can have severe consequences on humanity. However, there is no conclusive evidence that CO2 is the primary culprit in global warming. Every so often, a new “harm-doer” is found, and colossal amounts of resources are poured into obliterating it, only to discover some years later that the science behind the assertion was flawed. The only ones who feel better when the campaign is over are the shareholders of the companies that had made a fortune fighting a pointless war.

Until a few years ago, for example, cannabis was illegal. The argument was that it could potentially lead to use of harder drugs, and that long-term use of cannabis damages the brain. As recently as 2011, the National Institute of Health (NIH) released a study arguing that using cannabis has acute and long-term effects on the brain.

But within a few years, the view of cannabis has been reversed. Today, in 2017, no one discusses cannabis potentially leading to the use of hard drugs, and hardly anyone mentions possible brain damage. On the contrary, cannabis is hailed not only as a pain reliever, but also as a potent remedy in its own right. The American Cancer Society (ACS), for instance, states that marijuana “can help relieve pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant.” As for the risk of brain damage, the ACS argues that, in truth, cannabis “can help treat seizures, and reduce anxiety and paranoia.” The ACS even states that cannabis can “cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing.”

The Daily Mail and an Israeli research both went farther than even the ACS and reported that cannabis oil heals brain and lung cancer. As proof, they introduced the personal stories of people who were healed using the “magical drug” that until recently was considered evil. How could science be so wrong for so many years and change its mind so quickly? Clearly, someone is benefitting from these “scientific” revelations.

In all likelihood, the same is true for the argument that CO2 emissions are the prime cause of global warming. The Paris Accord requires America to give up millions of jobs and pay billions of dollars. Someone will obviously create jobs elsewhere and will benefit from the funds that America is pouring out.

As if this is not bad enough, the improvement that the accord aims to achieve is miniscule, at best: a cooling of one fifth of one degree Celsius (0.36 °F), assuming that all of the nearly 200 countries that signed the agreement keep it, and assuming that the science behind blaming CO2 for global warming is correct. How Obama ever signed this ludicrous agreement is beyond me.

What Do You Do With A Warming Planet?

A few years ago, a short film described the impact of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park after they had been hunted to extinction 70 years earlier under the pressure of cattle and livestock ranchers. The scientists studying the effects of the wolves’ return were astonished to learn that the introduction of wolves rejuvenated the entire ecosystem in Yellowstone. A few years after their return, bare ground became covered with grass as deer were forced to migrate farther away from the wolves. Trees were left to grow in peace and quintupled in height, causing the bird population to grow in numbers and diversity. The lush vegetation allowed other mammal populations to multiply, as well. Also, the growth of the trees strengthened the soil around riverbanks, narrowing their channels and forming pools that support the reproduction of amphibians that had almost become extinct in Yellowstone. It turned out that the restoration of the wolves in Yellowstone not only affected the animal population and the vegetation in the area, it even changed the physical geography of the park. Today, the rejuvenation of Yellowstone is a landmark example of how man’s selfishness makes us ignorant of nature’s complexity, and of the fact that every level in nature impacts every other level in ways we do not understand.

The same is true for CO2 emissions. We are mistreating nature in so many ways that focusing on just one cause will only create more problems elsewhere. The only way to save our planet is to change our selfish nature. And the way to change ourselves begins not in how we treat our planet, but in how we treat our fellow person.

Human nature impacts the rest of nature on two levels. The more superficial level has to do with our exploitative behavior. We are exploiting everything and everyone, and therefore approach every person, animal, plant, or mineral on the planet with a negative attitude. No other creature on this planet has this attitude. When wolves kill deer, they do not do this in order to hurt the deer but because they are hungry. Yet, when we hurt other people, we do it only in order to hurt them! As for the rest of nature, we may not have a deliberate intention to ruin it, but we exploit it to extinction just as the cattle ranchers did in Yellowstone. And when nature slips off-balance, we suffer the consequences.

The second, deeper level of adverse impact we humans have on nature has to do with the fact that all of nature is connected. Therefore, our negativity spreads throughout nature even when we do not show it through direct action. A few years ago, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler published one of the most influential books of our time. It is titled Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives—How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do. In their book, Christakis and Fowler documented the impact of people on other people even when they do not know one another, but simply because they share common friends. If we consider the realization that merely six degrees of separation (or less) stand between each of us and every other person in the world, then we will realize that we are all influencing one another even without knowing one another.

In a famous TED talk titled “The hidden influence of social networks,” Christakis argues that “human beings assemble themselves and form a kind of superorganism.” Indeed, we are a superorganism, except that not only humans are included in it, but our entire planetary ecosystem. Whatever we do, say, or think impacts every iota of reality and ripples in ways we cannot even imagine. When our actions, words, or thoughts are negative, we spread negativity everywhere.

Since no other creature on Earth but humans spreads negativity, no other creature is responsible for the negative phenomena impacting our world. If we change our behavior (such as by cutting CO2 emissions) but not our nature, we will mislead ourselves into thinking that we have made things better, which will, in turn, delay the necessary shift we must perform on our nature. The result will be a worsening of the negative phenomena.

Effecting Change

In my previous column, I outlined a program for developing what The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called “a whole new set of jobs and industries around the heart, around connecting people to people.” The program I outlined uses specialized workshops that help people shift from our inherent exploitative attitude to a collaborative one.

In the coming years, as robots take more and more of our jobs and universal basic income programs become a necessary reality, people will have all the time they need to partake in programs aimed at improving ourselves and our relationships. The trainings and workshops, whose structure I outlined in the book, Completing the Circle: An empirically proven method for finding peace and harmony in life, are designed to foster the desired change in our nature. In this way, by focusing on mending our society, we will also mitigate our negative footprint on nature.

This transformation will not happen because we will stop over consuming and over polluting. It will happen primarily because we will stop spreading “negative vibes” throughout the superorganism that is our planet. As a result, we will treat nature in a far more sustainable way than we currently do, and we will know what to change in our behavior and how to effect the change in order to achieve the best results. Only connection to all of nature through establishing positive connections among ourselves, will grant us the knowledge of the inner workings of nature and how we should relate to it.

The fact that so many crises are simultaneously unfolding on so many fronts should tell us that they are not the problem, but symptoms of a deeper one. That deeper problem is our egoism. If we fix this, we will have fixed everything, from CO2 emissions through international relations to our personal connections.
[208212]

Haaretz: “Survival in the Age of Willing Joblessness”

In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “Survival in the Age of Willing Joblessness

The old era, where a job is a necessity, is ending. A new, jobless era is dawning, and we had better be prepared.

Last April, the Census Bureau released a study that found a worrying trend: Many young people have no desire to work although they are perfectly healthy, and the trend is only accelerating. The poll has discovered that “1 in 3 young people, or about 24 million, lived in their parents’ home in 2015.” Additionally, “In 2005, the majority of young adults lived in their own household … in 35 states. By 2015, the number of states where the majority of young people lived independently fell to just six.” But perhaps the most alarming is this: “Of young people living in their parents’ home, 1 in 4 are idle, that is they neither go to school nor work. This figure represents about 2.2 million 25- to 34-year-olds.”

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that we should “consider universal basic income for Americans.”

Instead of work, millennials often prefer to simply pass the time idling away. Many of them, for instance, choose to stay home and play video games rather than go job hunting. They are not inept or unintelligent, and it is not that work is hard to find. Today’s young adults simply have no interest in finding any. They have lost interest in what this world has to offer.

These data should warn us that there is a different story developing under the surface. The old era, where a job is a necessity, is ending. A new, jobless era is dawning, and we had better be prepared. If we prepare ourselves correctly, we will go through the transition peacefully and pleasantly. If we stall and wait for joblessness to catch us unprepared, the transition will be far more painful.

Basic Income and the Threat of Radicalization

In his recent Harvard Commencement Speech, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that we should “consider universal basic income for Americans.” As I have written before, I have no doubt that in the foreseeable future, it will be necessary to provide a basic income to all.

Yet, while a basic income solves the physical necessities, it does not provide purpose and meaning to life. Video games and cheap cannabis will not numb people for long, as it is human nature to search for a purpose. If people cannot find meaning in their lives, they will turn toward the extremes. This trend is already underway, and many young people are undergoing radicalization in their quest for meaning, making them hazardous to society (see the recent Manchester terror attack). Without a solution, the trend will spread and violence and terrorism will make normalcy obsolete.

A Drawn Sword with Poison at Its Tip

In order to shift seamlessly and painlessly from the self-centered modus-operandi we have nurtured thus far into the new era, we must understand the nature of the era at our doorstep and how we should approach it so as to reap its potential benefits and avoid its pitfalls.

When I first started learning with my Kabbalah teacher, Rav Baruch Ashlag (the RABASH), he introduced me to an allegory written by his father, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, known as Baal HaSulam (Author of the Ladder) for his Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar. In his introduction to Tree of Life, Baal HaSulam wrote that the ego is like an angel holding a drawn sword with a drop of sweet, poisonous nectar at its tip. This angel, our ego, forces us to open our mouths and drink the sweet nectar until it puts us to death.

The drawn sword, the weapon of our egoism, threatens that terrible things will happen to us if we do not tend only to ourselves. It promises us happiness if we indulge in self-absorption, but the nectar at the tip of the sword (the brief moments of contentment in life) only makes us crave more of the nectar. Eventually, we become so narcissistic that we lose all touch with reality, as though we have died.

Today, we know that Baal HaSulam was right, but until recently it was not clear that we must find a practical way to shift from the nectar of egoism to the new incentive for existing—the pleasure in positive connections.

A Remedy from Antiquity

Throughout history, only one nation has ever had the privilege of living under a paradigm of positive connections. This nation, the Jewish people, emerged from the group that Abraham the Patriarch established when he saw his townspeople of Ur of the Chaldeans growing perilously self-centered.

During Abraham’s time, people became progressively more selfish all over ancient Babylon (of which Ur of the Chaldeans was a part). The book Pirkei De Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 24) writes that when Abraham walked by the Tower of Babylon, he saw the growing alienation among its builders. They became so uncaring toward each other that “If a man fell and died, they would not pay him any mind. But if a brick fell, they would sit and wail, ‘Woe unto us; when will another come in its place?’” As their alienation grew, “they wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took his sword and they fought each other to the death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

Abraham realized that the Babylonians were unable to overcome their egos. To cure his society from selfishness, he adopted a simple approach: Instead of fighting separation, nurture giving and connection.

Abraham’s followers and descendants continued to develop their unity above their growing egos until they forged such tight bonds that they became what the great commentator RASHI termed “as one man with one heart.” Only then, after forging this profound unity, Abraham’s descendants were declared a nation—the Jewish nation. This is why the book Yaarot Devash (Part 2, Drush no. 2) writes that the word Yehudi (Jew) comes from the word yihudi, meaning united.

Over many centuries, the early Jews developed their method by matching their unity with their growing egoism. Every time their egoism prevailed, they strove and bickered with each other. And every time they matched the discord with connection, they rose to new heights of unity. This is why The Book of Zohar (Beshalach) writes, “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.”

Shifting Focus toward Positive Connections

The ancient Jews bequeathed to the world the values we still hold dear today. Historian Paul Johnson wrote in A History of the Jews: “To the Jews we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind.”

Yet, instead of being “a light unto nations” by lifting the world to the connected level of existence, the Jews have fallen into egoism. Since their decline, humanity has not been able to establish sustainable social structures based on positive connections.

For this reason, now that our egos have exhausted their charm, we have a real chance at reestablishing a society that provides both happiness and meaning to our lives through positive connections and mutual responsibility.

Now that society can provide each person with a basic income, we can focus on enhancing our connections. Since careers no longer interest young adults, they will look for meaning elsewhere, and deep and lasting meaning can be found only in positive human connections.

In a famous TED talk titled “The hidden influence of social networks,” acclaimed sociologist Prof. Nicholas Christakis detailed what science has revealed about the impact of human connections: “Our experience of the world depends on the structure of the networks in which we’re residing and on things that ripple and flow through the network. The reason that this is the case is that human beings assemble themselves and form a kind of superorganism.”

A Whole New Set of Industries—Around the Heart

To shift from individualism to positive connections, we should take advantage of people’s increasing free time to give them training that will help them establish such relationships. Moreover, to guarantee that everyone partakes in these trainings, we should provide basic income only on condition of participation in them.

Mandatory participation as a condition for reception of basic income will serve two purposes: 1) A person who receives free money with no strings attached does not feel obligated to society and will likely become increasingly narcissistic and anti-social. 2) As I wrote above, people without a purpose in life will necessarily search for one, and could possibly be radicalized. The trainings will teach them how to foster positive connections, which will give them the meaning they seek in life.

With today’s technology, providing these trainings can be almost cost-free. Through online meetings with guided workshops, people will learn to connect above their hatred just as Abraham and his disciples did almost four millennia ago. Even the most notorious anti-Semite in American history, Henry Ford, recommended learning from the early Jews in his book The International Jew—the World’s Foremost Problem. In his words, “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

This, indeed, is what we have to do. Governments, municipalities, and other organizations should now engage in forming such trainings for people whose time allows them to participate. Once enrolled, the trainees will no longer be regarded as unemployed or jobless. Instead, they will be regarded as employed individuals whose job is to nurture positive connections in society. In the near future, this form of connection will become the most sought-after product on the market. Positive connections are the basis of every sustainable society. Therefore, “production workers” who create connections will become invaluable to their communities.

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said in an interview with Tucker Carlson on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show: “Connecting people to people will be a huge job. …I think that the
best jobs will be people-to-people jobs. We’re going to see a whole new set of jobs and industries around the heart, around connecting people to people.”

While Friedman is correct, without a technology at the basis of this new industry, its products will be flawed. This is where Abraham’s method comes in. In my book Completing the Circle: An empirically proven method for finding peace and harmony in life, I detailed the technology of fostering connection over alienation. This technology is applicable for both individuals and organizations, and is very simple to apply as long as you keep this one rule in mind: Every quarrel emerges only so that we can strengthen our connection. This is the modern interpretation of the words of The Zohar I quoted earlier: “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.”

In conclusion, the only remedy for the disintegration of our society is basic income for all, contingent upon participation in making new, positively connected and mutually responsible communities, achieved through trainings that will take us from the egoistic era to the age of positive connections and mutual responsibility peacefully and pleasantly.
[207811]

JPost: “Will The US Become A Nation Of the Idle Young?“

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “Will The US Become A Nation Of the Idle Young?

At a time of high unemployment and reluctance to work, basic income contingent upon nurturing solidarity is paramount.

 

A poll recently published by the Census Bureau has found that in 2015 “1 in 3 young people, or about 24 million lived in their parents’ home.” The poll also found that “In 2005, the majority of young adults lived in their own household … in 35 states. A decade later, by 2015, the number of states where the majority of young people lived independently fell to just six.” But perhaps most alarming is this finding: “Of young people living in their parents’ home, 1 in 4 are idle, that is they neither go to school nor work. This figure represents about 2.2 million 25- to 34-year- olds.”

The bottom line is this: Many young people can’t be bothered to work these days. They have no desire to sustain themselves independently, and the trend is only accelerating.

These millennials are not inept or unintelligent. Their problem is not that work is hard to find; they simply have no interest in finding any. They have lost interest in what this world has to offer so they put their lives on hold. Many of them, for instance, consciously choose to stay home and play video games rather than to go job hunting.

The impressive unemployment rate tells a very partial story as millions of jobless people have dropped off the radar, but they haven’t disappeared. These people are telling us that there is a different story developing under the surface. The old era is ending and a new one is dawning, and we had better be prepared. What we are witnessing is neither the end of the liberal era nor the end of the industrial era or the end of the democratic era. We are seeing the end of the egoistic era. The question is: “Will we go through the transition peacefully or painfully?”

A Nation of the Idle Young

During his recent Harvard Commencement Speech, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “called on the need to consider universal basic income for Americans” I have written several times that in the coming years, providing a basic income to all will become a necessity.

However, even if we provide everyone a basic income, video games and cheap cannabis will not numb people for long. It is human nature to search for a purpose, and if people cannot find meaning in their lives, they will turn toward the extremes. This is already happening to a degree, as many young people are undergoing radicalization in their quest for meaning and are becoming hazards to society (see the recent Manchester terror attack). Without a solution, the trend will spread and violence and terrorism will make normalcy obsolete.

A Drop of Sweet, Poisonous Nectar

There is a way to shift seamlessly and painlessly from the self-centered modus-operandi we have nurtured thus far into the new era. However, in order to do this we must understand the nature of the era at our doorstep and how we should approach it so as to reap its potential benefits and avoid its pitfalls.

When I first came to study with my Kabbalah teacher, Rav Baruch Ashlag (the RABASH), he introduced me to an allegory written by his father, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, known as Baal HaSulam (Author of the Ladder) for his Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar. In his introduction to Tree of Life, Baal HaSulam wrote that the ego is like an angel holding a drawn sword with a drop of sweet, poisonous nectar at its tip. We humans have no choice but to open our mouths and drink the sweet nectar until it puts us to death.

This is our current situation. The drawn sword is our egoism, which threatens that terrible things will happen to us if we do not tend only to ourselves. It gives us brief moments of contentment in life, which are the nectar, but these moments do nothing other than convince us to crave more of the nectar. Eventually, we become so self-absorbed that we lose all touch with reality, as though we have died.

Baal HaSulam is not the only one familiar with this trait of human nature. All of our sages knew this, since the beginning of the history of our people until approximately the beginning of the 20th century, and some even later. Dozens of them even wrote about it, explaining what we need to do in order to break loose from the shackles of the ego. However, until recently, it was not clear that this was what humanity needed. Now that people are losing touch with reality by the millions, there is a clear need to offer a practical way to shift from the nectar of egoism into the new incentive for existing—the age of positive connections.

Instead of Fighting Separation, Nurture Giving and Connection

Of all the nations on this planet, only one has ever had the privilege of living under a different paradigm than an ego-based existence. This nation, the Jewish people, emerged from the group that Abraham the Patriarch established when he saw his townspeople of Ur of the Chaldeans growing perilously self-centered.

The egoism that Abraham noticed was not exclusive to the people of his hometown. All over ancient Babylon (of which Ur of the Chaldeans was a part), people became progressively more selfish. The book Pirkei De Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 24) writes that when Abraham walked by the Tower of Babylon, he saw the growing alienation among its builders. They were so indifferent to each other that “If a man fell and died, they would not pay him any mind. But if a brick fell, they would sit and wail, ‘Woe unto us; when will another come in its place?’” As their alienation grew, the book continues, they “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took his sword and they fought each other to the death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

Realizing that the Babylonians were unable to overcome their egos, Abraham adopted a simple approach: Instead of fighting egoism and separation, nurture giving and connection. This is why to this day Abraham is known as “a man of mercy” and is regarded as the symbol of kindness.

Abraham’s disciples and descendants continued to develop their unity above their growing egos until they forged such tight bonds that they became what the great commentator RASHI termed “as one man with one heart.” Only then, after forging an unprecedented—and to this day unrepeated—unity, Abraham’s descendants were declared a nation.

Moreover, immediately after the Hebrews were declared a nation, they were commanded to be “a light unto nations,” namely with sharing the unique method of connection they had formed with the rest of the world. Over many centuries, the early Jews developed their method by matching their unity with their growing egoism. Every time their egoism prevailed, they strove and bickered with each other. And every time they matched the discord with connection, they rose to new heights of unity. This is why The Book of Zohar (Beshalach) writes, “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.”

The Advent of Positive Connections

When the Jews fell into such hatred that they could not overcome with unity, they dispersed and lost their land, the Land of Israel. Since then, and for the past two thousand years, the world has been developing solely on egoistic motives.

The ancient Jews bequeathed to the world the values we still hold dear today. Historian Paul Johnson wrote in A History of the Jews: “To the Jews we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind.” Regrettably, because these noble notions were all based on self-centered interests, humanity could not establish sustainable social structures that could be implemented in everyday life, at least not until today.

Now that even our egos have exhausted their charm, we have a real chance at reestablishing a society that provides both happiness and meaning to our lives—through positive connections and mutual responsibility.

Now that society can provide each person with a basic income, we can focus on enhancing our connections. Since careers no longer interest young adults, they will look for meaning elsewhere, and deep and lasting meaning can be found only in positive human connections.

This is the secret that Abraham discovered; this is the method that the nation that emerged from him developed and was commanded to pass on; and this is also what contemporary science is discovering. In a famous TED talk titled “The hidden influence of social networks,” acclaimed sociologist Prof. Nicholas Christakis detailed what science has revealed about the impact of human connections. “Our experience of the world depends on the structure of the networks in which we’re residing and on things that ripple and flow through the network. The reason, I think, that this is the case, is that human beings assemble themselves and form a kind of superorganism.”

Contingent Basic Income

In order to transition our focus and awareness from individualism to connection, we need to use people’s increasing free time to undergo training that will help them establish these connections. For this reason, I do not believe that free money is a good idea. Free money means that people will not be committed to their societies, which will exacerbate already prevalent anti-social tendencies. Therefore, I think that basic income should be given only on condition of participation in these trainings.

Through physical and online meetings, and using guided workshops, people will learn to connect above their hatred just as Abraham and his disciples did almost four millennia ago.

Even the most notorious anti-Semite in American history, Henry Ford, recommended in his book The International Jew—the World’s Foremost Problem: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

This, indeed, is what we have to do. Governments, municipalities, and other organizations should now engage in forming such trainings for people whose time allows them to participate. Once enrolled, the trainees will no longer be regarded as unemployed or jobless. Instead, they will be regarded as employed individuals whose job is to nurture positive connections in society. In the near future, this form of connection will become the most in- demand product on the market. Positive connections are the basis of every sustainable society; therefore, “production workers” who create this will become invaluable to their communities.

In that regard, The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said in an interview with Tucker Carlson on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show: “Connecting people to people will be a huge job. …I think that the best jobs will be people-to- people jobs. We’re going to see a whole new set of jobs and industries around the heart, around connecting people to people.”

Friedman is right, but without the technology at the basis of this new industry, its products will be flawed. This is where Abraham’s method comes in. In my book Completing the Circle: An empirically proven method for finding peace and harmony in life, I detailed the technology of fostering connection over alienation. This technology is applicable for both individuals and organizations, and is very simple to apply as long as you keep this one rule in mind: Every quarrel emerges only so that we can strengthen our connection. This is the modern interpretation of the words of The Zohar I quoted earlier: “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.”

In conclusion, the only remedy for the disintegration of our society is basic income for all, contingent upon participation in making new, positively connected and mutually responsible communities, achieved through trainings that will take us from the egoistic era into the age of positive connections and mutual responsibility peacefully and pleasantly.
[207808]