Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

JPost: “Why a Death Penalty for Terrorists Won’t Solve Terrorism… and What Will”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article:“Why a Death Penalty for Terrorists Won’t Solve Terrorism… and What Will

The death penalty for terrorists law being promoted in Israel by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman once again highlights an issue at the center of a tug-of-war, showing the inability of the Israeli people to unify on a specific stance. Arguments for and against the law have flooded the Israeli press on whether it would really deter terrorists, and what it would mean for Jews.

At face value, the Talmud justifies the death penalty for a person who acts with an intention to kill another person: “If someone comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72:1). This law is no different for a terrorist as it is for any person making a move to murder another person.

However, whether or not the death penalty will pass in Israel will not influence the problem of terrorism at its root. The whole discourse around the topic is like discussing whether chemotherapy or natural treatments are better for treating cancer: you will always get a different opinion depending on who you ask, and the entire discussion doesn’t deal with analyzing the problem, and its solution, from its causal basis.

Therefore, I have no interest in meddling with the laws of the State of Israel, which are based on laws from the time of the British Mandate and also slightly earlier. If the State of Israel and the Jewish people really wanted to solve terrorism, then we would need to reach further back into our roots, to understand what makes us a Jewish people to begin with, and what laws we followed when we first became a Jewish people. Then, we might learn something about the laws that would have the power to completely uproot the problem of terrorism.

How to Override State Laws With Nature’s Laws: A Primer for the People of Israel

What makes us a Jewish people is the tendency to unite (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]). Our ancestors realized this tendency back in the time when Abraham founded groups not according to State laws, but according to nature’s laws. While the ancient Babylonian society was crumbling into devastating levels of social division around him, Abraham refused to accept the divisive norm of the day. Instead, he dedicated his life to a process of self-discovery and the research of nature and the system of creation. Through his research, he discovered how nature’s most fundamental laws are of love, giving, kindness and unity. Moreover, he found how these laws operate on reality’s every element, and gathered individuals who also sought better lives, formed groups out of them, and guided them on how to realize nature’s laws of love and unity in social relations. That group became known as “the Jews.”

As a united Jewish people, we enjoyed times of happiness and prosperity during the times of the First and Second Temple. Over time, however, human egoism evolved to a new level in humanity, including the Jewish people. It drove us apart and we became remote from our accordance with nature’s laws of unity. Ultimately, we replaced following nature’s laws with following man-made State laws.

Egoism makes us consider personal benefit as having greater importance than benefiting others and the whole society we exist in. If we don’t apply ourselves to unite above our natural egoistic tendency, then we build our lives more and more in a way that is opposite to nature. Terrorism is just one of the obvious ways in which our world today shows us the outcome of our natural, egoistic development over thousands of years.

We have sliced up humanity into myriad segments, sub-segments and sub-sub-segments. We value individuality over integrality, and the personal success of unique individuals or select groups over the collective success of society as a whole. This is opposite to how nature works. Nature views the planet and all its inhabitants as a single system, placing equal importance on all its parts. It is akin to cells and organs of a human body all playing a vital role in the health, sustenance and functioning of the entire body.

Our increasingly egoistic and separated approach from nature not only divides us as a people, it is the cause for every misfortune and pain in humanity. As with the example of the human body, when a certain cell or group of cells start receiving more than what they need on account of other cells, it is considered as cancerous growth. Our emphasis on self-benefit over benefiting human society as a whole separates us from identifying with and following nature’s laws of love and unity, and makes us succumb to following our man-made State laws instead. Then, the more problems surface worldwide on personal, social and global scales, the more we have to revise our man-made laws, like how we continually need to revise our medicines for treating new epidemics.

Therefore, if we approach the diagnosis and cure of the world’s many problems, including terrorism, at their source—our separation from following nature’s laws of unity—then by learning what nature’s laws are, and how we can observe them, we could pave the path to a harmonious and unified society, in balance with nature.

The Resurgence of the Method for the Discovery and Application of Nature’s Laws

The method for the discovery and application of these laws is the same method Abraham developed, the wisdom of Kabbalah. Today, this method is undergoing a modern resurgence as thousands of people worldwide, who feel the world’s current paths are leading to dead ends, start regularly gathering to discover their long-lost connection with nature, and revitalize the sense of purpose, love, unity and closeness with nature that Abraham’s group once pioneered.

Using this method, this worldwide group has become a research lab of a society based on the discovery and application of nature’s laws. If there are strong, united ties in social relations propelled by the continual learning, encouragement and promotion of pro-social values, such as unity, love, giving, mutual consideration and kindness, then negative egoistic phenomena won’t have a chance to surface. For instance, punishment would not surface as we know it in our world today, as a penalty for an offence that was done. Punishment would be felt as an inner sensation within the person, when the egoistic inclination grasps the person’s desires and thoughts with its demand for personal fulfillment on account of others.

In a society functioning according to nature’s laws, each person would have the necessary grounding, tools and supportive social environment to work with their egoistic, criminal inclinations before they materialize. Likewise, a person would be able to apply punishments, including even a “death penalty” to his own egoistic inclinations, as he would not want to harm the social atmosphere. In the Kabbalah method, such a version of punishment is called a “correction” of our nature. These corrections bring us closer and closer to the opening of a new, expansive nature where threads of love, unity and consideration bind us together.

Other than the above-mentioned times of the First and Second Temples, we have never created this kind of social atmosphere, and today our egoism runs rampant in society. As its effects of growing social division, Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and terrorism flare up, we can either continue trying to create different kinds of band-aids and plaster them all over the place, or we can start aligning ourselves with nature’s laws and treat these problems and others at their root.

It is my hope that we will discover this positive social atmosphere that aspires to balance with nature’s laws sooner than later. The worldwide group now working on implementing this method is open for everyone to join, and already in its early stages, people immediately vouch for wondrous new sensations and perceptions that open up to them as a result of even minutely making tiny efforts towards connection and love in a society that upholds those values. It is also my hope that human society will discover the splendor of living according to nature’s laws, and that it happens sooner, through learning and encouragement, rather than later, through pains and sorrows.
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The Bitcoin Phenomenon

The day will come when, by virtue of a new quality of interconnection between us, a new “currency” will emerge.

Below is a seven-year graph showing the Bitcoin-USD exchange rate, with an unprecedented rise in 2017 (Buy Bitcoin Worldwide).

Impressive, isn’t it?

Obviously, I am not a market analyst or expert on cryptocurrencies. However, Bitcoin is certainly not just a financial phenomenon. It is founded upon the attempt to create a completely new type of universal value.

It would seem that there is nothing backing the “virtual currency” except cryptographic algorithms. However, that is no laughing matter. After all, cryptography is intended to provide reliability and trust, which is already valuable in itself. It is as if the creators of the new coin are declaring: human nature with its “baggage” has no access to our territory.

The modern financial system cannot boast of having this feature; there, money is produced by banks and is a factor of the political and economic influences of specific countries and organizations. In other words, the “old” money serves very specific interests.

On the other hand, right before our eyes, a new, extra-governmental, extra-historical currency is being born, setting claim to becoming a universal, absolute equivalent, and even to driving gold out of its immovable position.

It is being born because the need for it is ripe. After all, globalization, which many people criticize, really is a natural phenomenon. It reflects the current state of humanity, which has already gathered into one whole technologically, but has not yet accepted this fact psychologically.

That is why we don’t yet understand how to use the cryptocurrency, how to integrate it into the system, and how it will later influence us, the ones who created it. However, that does not change its essence: the global world is demanding a global monetary equivalent that does not depend on local, subjective “circumstances” and interests.

On the other hand, if we treat this novelty like in the olden times, with traditional means, it will lose its “charm”—its objective value as seen by the public. Yes, in the beginning of the road, Bitcoin became a convenient means for deals on the black market, which found a way in here, yet the completely legal “financial mafia” will put an end to it and will find a way to secure a grip on the new coin.

Will the illegal players be able to preserve the freedom of the cryptocurrency? One way or another, its future depends on that. There are chances for that to happen since governments and banks are also connected to the “financial mafia.”

However, if we rise above the current fuss surrounding Bitcoin, we will see how egoism on a global scale is gradually building the respective global systems for itself, and in a way that does not attach artificial ideals and ideologies to them.

There is no “good” or “evil” here, but only business in the pure form. And what difference does it make if the reciprocal trust of the parties is provided by virtual computer computations? On the contrary, that makes it even better; there will be fewer errors in the calculations.

It turns out that we are talking about global trends and, for the most part, it makes no sense to resist them.

Moreover, in the future we will develop additional universal parameters, but ones of a social nature. The day will come when, by virtue of a new quality of interconnection between us, a new “currency” will emerge—social rating, expressed by a clear equivalent that anyone can understand.

People will be able to accumulate it as well, but not sell or buy it. It is more likely to have a comparative nature while having completely real value.

After all, society, especially one that is global, cannot be based on just bare egoism alone. Of course, it is rational in its own way, but when left to its own devices, it leads to a dead-end. The social aspect in man and society must take the upper hand over self-focus so the whole will not fall apart into pieces.

These are the paradigms of a new time, whose essence is not a single currency, but new relationships between people in a united, modern world.
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Related Material:
Does The World Need Money?
Money Is Merely An Equivalent
Why Do We Need Money?

JPost: “Israel Must Be the Beacon of Peace the World Awaits”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article: “Israel Must Be the Beacon of Peace the World Awaits

Seventy years after the declaration of Israel’s independence warrants a deep look at our current state. Especially since earlier this week a U.S. President suddenly felt compelled to make a statement recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

“It went on and on, for many nerve wracking moments of that winter night in 1947. Finally the American announcer pierced the silence with his announcement: 33 in favor, 13 against, the resolution is approved. The state of Israel was declared. Then came the dancing and tears, and flags appeared. Cars honked their horns as loudly as they could, and the sounds of Shofars sounded from all the synagogues… My father said to me as we wandered between the circles of dancers, ‘Take a good look at this my boy, because you will never forget this night as long as you live, and you will tell your children and grandchildren about it long after we’re gone.’”

Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness

Indeed we’ve never forgotten that night. Somewhere along the corridors of Israel’s collective memory, those cheers of elation and bursts of spontaneous singing can still be heard, like an annoying reminder that it wasn’t just a dream. For a brief moment we experienced how it really feels to be together, unified as one.

Seventy years of endless wars, internal struggles and the exhausting search for our path, makes you stop and wonder at times, if these events ever really occurred. On the one hand, we cannot dismiss our achievements. We have a flag and an anthem, an electrical company, an airport, an army, a thriving high-tech industry, and rich culture. There is much to be proud of.

But imagine if we could take all the hopes and dreams from deep within the hearts of those dancing people, and pour them all out on the table opposite our current life in the state of Israel; If we take a good hard look and be honest with ourselves, have any of those aspirations we had come true? Have we turned out the way we hoped we would — a unified people, independent and free in our own land? Would the United Nations vote the same way if they voted again today?

DID WE LEARN ANYTHING FROM OUR EXILE?

There gap between the dreams of the past and today’s reality is undeniable. Somewhere along the way, we must have missed something big. We came back to the land of our ancestors after two thousand years in exile, and we tried to create a modern day version of the Hebrew culture, but it’s not nearly enough.

At some point the hands that once held each other tight began to loosen their grip and even each pull in their own direction. Seventy years have passed and we still haven’t found a formula for making that fleeting sensation of togetherness into a lasting experience.

With all due respect to the United Nations, the justification for the state of Israel dates way back, to a time when Abraham the patriarch gathered disciples in ancient Babylon who searched for the source of life. Together they discovered the method to rise above their ego, and cultivate genuine mutual concern for each other. The group grew until it finally became a nation — the nation of Israel who inhabited its given land upon the foundation of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Ever since then, our moral and spiritual obligation has always been to “be a light unto nations” and serve as a positive example for the world. It is the only real mandate for our existence as a nation as well as for the land upon which we reside.

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE HAVE A SPIRITUAL MISSION

The long years of exile made us forget that we have a spiritual mission. But towards the end of the 19th century a fateful shift took place and the Jewish people began to yearn once again to return to their land and build an independent state. It was precisely at this time that Abraham’s method began to resurface as “the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah.” With this new turn of events, Baal Hasulam and Rav Kook, two of the greatest Kabbalists of the 20th century, declared that our external independence depends directly upon the attainment of our spiritual independence:

“As long as we do not raise our purpose above our corporeal lives” wrote Baal Hasulam in his article “Exile and Redemption”, “we shall not have a corporeal resurrection, for we are the people of the ideal”.

With the world’s eyes set on Jerusalem, the significance of the above excerpt becomes more relevant than ever: Israel cannot be a society based on egoistic values and principles, even if it appears to be successful in other countries. The people of Israel must rediscover their foundation of mutual love and be a beacon of peace for the entire world.

In Israel of 2017, the Promised Land has become the land of milk, honey and Coca Cola, and cars only honk in the streets after a great football or basketball triumph abroad.

However, the world needs a positive example of unity now more than ever before. The current fractured reality in Israeli society presents the perfect opportunity to build a new foundation for our shared life as a nation. It is time for Israelis to start dancing around a spiritual ideal of love. Then, Jerusalem too, can become the beacon of peace that so many around the world anticipate it to be.
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My Articles In The Media, October – November, 2017

In English

Newsmax

“Millennials Know Not the Socialism They Ask For”
“What’s Next When US Is Divided Like Vietnam War Days?”
“Trump Can Awaken Nation by Declaring Opioids Emergency”
“Paddock’s Motive Unknown But Motive for Violence Is Everywhere”
“GOP and Dems Can Share a Tent Without Calling Police”

The Times of Israel

“What Millennials Must Know About Socialism”
“Who Else Wants a New Reason to Celebrate Simchat Torah?”
“The Meaning of the Jonah Story Read on Yom Kippur

In French

Times of Israel

“7 Américains sur 10 disent que les États-Unis sont divisés comme au temps de la guerre du Vietnam. À quoi faut-il s’attendre?”
“Comment les Républicains et les Démocrates peuvent partager une tente sans en arriver à appeler la police
Pourquoi les milléniaux deviennent-ils socialistes, que leur manque-t-il?”
“Trump devrait déclarer que la crise des opioïdes est «un coup de semonce national»”

Blogactiv

“Por qué los Millennials se hacen socialistas y qué les hace falta”
“7 de cada 10 estadounidenses: “Estados Unidos está dividido como durante la Guerra de Vietnam” ¿Qué será lo siguiente?”
“Desconocemos los motivos del autor de la matanza en Las Vegas, pero el motivo de la violencia está en todas partes”

In Italian

Blogactiv

“Trump dovrebbe dichiarare che la crisi degli oppiacei è ‘Un campanello d’allarme a livello nazionale'”
“La realtà sul processo di pace in Medio Oriente”

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The Times of Israel: What Millennials Must Know About Socialism

The Times of Israel published my new article “What Millennials Must Know About Socialism”

I know socialism firsthand. Here’s a lesson on human nature and our desire for a better society.

More millennial Americans are fed up with capitalism, and would prefer to live in a socialist country. That’s the tendency a survey last month conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found, as millennials were the only US age group that favored socialism over capitalism.

 Moreover, as Maggy Donaldson pointed out, in the past year the Democratic Socialists of America became the fastest growing US political group, nearly quintupling their membership from 6,500 to 30,000, as their median age group also shifted from 60 to 35.

The reason for American millennials’ attraction to socialism seems clear: facing rising student debts and higher rents, together with stagnant wages and job insecurity, the idea of socialism surfaces to potentially resolve these stresses, offering instead systems subsidizing their every need.

Millennials Indicate New Stage of Human Development

Over the past three or so decades, there has been a significant shift in the tectonic plates underlying human development. The Baby Boomer “American Dream” spirit evolved into a fundamentally different millennial one: while the Baby Boomer strove for tomorrow’s prosperity, the millennial settles for today’s convenience.

Possessions we used to save up for and wait to buy are now available the moment after we think about them. Our desire to be publicly recognized and admired no longer needs to pass the approval of specialists or industry executives, but can be fulfilled one social media post at a time. Also, “smart” today isn’t about memorizing and recalling information, like we once incessantly trained and tested ourselves on. Rather, our tech devices are the “smart” ones, and it’s about how well we use them to find what we need, when we need it.

That’s the unique socio-economic paradox of the millennial generation: working long and hard is no longer to achieve luxuries, but necessities. Through technological developments, we’ve made the fruits of wealth, public admiration and knowledge readily available and struggle-free. Yet, today’s millennial struggle is to keep up with the costs of food, housing, education, healthcare and childcare.

And so, socialism sprouts up in the millennial’s mind: “Why do I have to break my neck just to make ends meet?”

The Only Way Socialism Could Work

When I lived in Russia, I experienced “Russian socialism” firsthand. On the outset, it appears to have the solutions American millennials seek. The government unloads the weight from the people’s shoulders, taking care of their basic infrastructure: everyone works, get taxed similarly, and gets free or affordable food, housing, education, transportation, healthcare and childcare.

Where, then, did such socialism fall short?

It didn’t take human nature, the fundamental need to fulfill oneself before any other person, into account. People don’t want to live their lives to benefit other people. Any surplus effort one makes within a socialist system sees no direct surplus reward. Even if we would be better off in a communal society, we wouldn’t be able to give up on our individualistic approach. Our very nature won’t let us.

Thus, people lack the motivation to truly benefit each other. The Soviet approach to this problem was to force this communal system onto the people and expect them to be happy. But then, even its enforcers relied on the same motivation, and the system imploded with horrendous violence and suffering.

Yehuda Ashlag’s article “The Peace,” written in the 1930s, is just as relevant today in describing the nature of socialism, and the fundamental problem of motivation that needs to be solved in order for socialism to work.

‘Where would the worker or the farmer find sufficient motivation to work?’ For his daily bread will not increase or decrease by his efforts, and there are no goals or rewards before him.

 “It is well known to researchers of nature that one cannot perform even the slightest movement without motivation, without somehow benefiting oneself.

 “When, for example, one moves one’s hand from the chair to the table, it is because one thinks that by putting his hand on the table he will enjoy it more. If he did not think so, he would leave his hand on the chair for the rest of his life without moving it at all. It is all the more so with greater efforts.

 “And if you say that there is a solution — to place them under supervision so that anyone who is idle at his work will be punished by denial of salary, I will ask, ‘Do tell me where the supervisors themselves should take the motivation for their work?’ Because standing at one place and watching over people to motivate them to work is a great effort, too, perhaps more than the work itself. Therefore, it is as though one wishes to switch on a machine without fueling it.”
— Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag, “The Peace

What is this “fuel” that is imperative for socialism to work?

It is in people wanting to benefit other people.

For socialism to work in the long term, people need to be organically motivated to contribute to society, wishing  to see everyone in society become happy and secure. This is not the desire that motivates people naturally. Rather, it exists in potential. Everyone agrees in theory with ideas of equality, altruism, mutual consideration and kindness, but in practice, we continually resort to treating our personal benefit with primacy. These ideas cannot be forced, but they can be learned.

Through connection-enriching educational programs, we can learn how to better identify, magnify and grow ideas of equality, altruism, and mutual consideration into a new social construct: an integrative social circuitry that flows with positive signals of those values.

I believe the most pragmatic initiation of such learning en masse can start with our children. By focusing our concern on how we can raise the next generation to be better socially connected, we adults would also be influenced positively by this process: it would motivate us to improve our own social conditions, as well as those for the future society. We would thus create the beginnings of a supportive environment for connective ideals to blossom into a practical, workable form.

It is my hope that we could spark such a process in society. The time has come to refill our fuel tank with a whole new kind of motivation, and find meaning, happiness and confidence in our cultivation of a positively connected human society. I also very much hope to see the activation of political and social organizations that will emphasize connection-enriching education of ourselves and the young generation as a launch pad for a better world.
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Newsmax: “Millennials Know Not The Socialism They Ask For”

My latest article in Newsmax: “Millennials Know Not The Socialism They Ask For”

A monument of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) in front of the Central Pavilion in the All-Russia Exhibition Centre in Moscow, Russia. (Danielal/Dreamstime) 

There’s an important reason why socialism failed horribly in the past, and today’s young minds must take that into account.

More millennial Americans are fed up with capitalism, and would prefer to live in a socialist country. That’s the tendency a survey last month conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found, as millennials were the only U.S. age group that favored socialism over capitalism.

Why would American millennials be attracted to socialism? When you think about exploding student debts, high rents, stagnant wages and job insecurity, why wouldn’t socialism surface in their minds as a potential solution to resolve these stresses, with systems to subsidize their every need?

Millennials Indicate a Change of Spirit in Society

Over the past three or so decades, there has been a significant shift in the tectonic plates underlying the human spirit. The baby boomer American dream spirit evolved into a fundamentally different millennial one. While the baby boomer strove for tomorrow’s prosperity, the millennial settles for today’s convenience.

Possessions we used to save up for and wait to buy are now available the moment after we think about them. Our desire to be publicly recognized and admired no longer needs to pass the approval of specialists or industry executives, but can be fulfilled instantly on social media. Being smart today isn’t about memorizing and recalling information, like we once incessantly trained and tested ourselves on. Our tech devices are “smart,” and our image is tied to how savvy we are about using all this tech to our advantage.

That’s the unique socio-economic paradox of the millennial generation: working long and hard is no longer to achieve luxuries, but necessities. Through technological developments, we’ve made the fruits of wealth, public admiration and knowledge readily available and struggle-free. And yet, today’s millennial struggle is to keep up with the costs of food, housing, education, healthcare and childcare.

A natural result of this process is for socialism to sprout up in the millennial mind, “Why do I have to break my neck just to make ends meet?”

Where Socialism Falls Short

As someone who experienced Russian “socialism” firsthand during my university years, I’m sure millennials would be interested in the first part of the story I can tell them, about a government that unloads the weight off people’s shoulders, takes care of all their basic needs, and leaves no one without affordable food, housing, education, transportation, healthcare and childcare.

But what’s the other side of the story?

Socialism doesn’t take into account the default state of human nature: the fundamental need to fulfill oneself before any other person. The fact is that people don’t wish to live their lives in order to benefit other people. Any surplus effort one makes within a socialist system sees no direct surplus reward, and even if we can see how everyone would be better off in a communal society, we wouldn’t be able to give up on our individual gain. Our very nature won’t let us.

Thus, people lack motivation to work for the benefit of the whole. The Soviet approach to this problem was to shove it down people’s throats and expect them to be thankful later. But then, even its enforcers relied on the same motivation, and the system imploded with unthinkable violence and suffering.

How Millennials Can Push for a Better Society

It depends on people wanting to benefit other people. People have to be organically motivated to contribute to society, wishing to see everyone become happy and secure. This is not our default state and certainly not where society is now.

However, it does exist in potential. Everyone agrees in theory with ideas of equality, altruism, mutual consideration and kindness, but in practice, these ideas cannot be forced, they need to gradually sink into the human spirit and change us from within if we are to even consider a social structure that applies them.

If we begin to engage regularly in connection-enriching programs, we could cultivate our natural potential for human connection. I believe the most pragmatic initiation of this could start with our children. The concern for their future can be our motivation to work on a better society.

By focusing on raising the next generation to be better socially connected, we adults would also be positively influenced by this process. We would thus create the beginnings of a supportive environment for connective ideals that could blossom into some practical and balanced changes in society.
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“Mark Zuckerberg Is Surprised At The Extent Of The Opioid Problem”

In the News (CNBC): “Mark Zuckerberg is surprised at the extent of the opioid problem — but Facebook is full of illegal opioid marketing. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the scope of the opioid crisis was what surprised him most during his 2017 travels throughout the country.

“But all he had to do was look at Facebook to see how pervasive the marketing is for these powerful and addictive pain medications.

“Sellers here and overseas are using Facebook pages and videos to offer drugs that U.S. laws say require a prescription, CNBC has found.

“Searching on Facebook for the names of some of the most commonly prescribed pain medications pointed to multiple vendors selling Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Percocet and other similar drugs.

“This illicit marketing persists three months after NBC News highlighted the problem, and weeks after President Donald Trump declared opioid addiction a public health emergency.”

My Comment: If Mark Zuckerberg is worried about opioids, he shouldn’t just do better to police his site. 

As I’ve recently written in my article “The Solution to the Opioid Crisis Is More Opioids—of the Natural Kind,” the craving for opiates represents the craving for human connection. And the opioid crisis tells us exactly what we need to change in our society.

As director of the world’s largest social network, Zuckerberg could do a lot to facilitate positive human connections on a massive scale via the virtual world, as I’ve detailed in my September 27, 2017 open letter to him “How Facebook Can Actually ‘Bring the World Closer Together.'”
#opioid #crisis

24 Hours: “The Meaning Of Life”

In San Francisco, the the Russian newspaper 24 Hours published my article “The Meaning Of Life”:

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Newsmax: “What’s Next When US Is Divided Like Vietnam War Days?“

The largest portal Newsmax published my new article “What’s Next When US Is Divided Like Vietnam War Days“?

It comes as no surprise to me that a majority of Americans said in a recent Washington Post poll that divisions in the U.S. are at least as big as they were during the Vietnam War, and that American politics have reached a dangerous low point.

America’s socio-political climate is looking more and more like a prison yard where you have to choose your gang to get a sense of support: you’re either on the left or the right. The country is torn between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, and the pluralism, equality, and independence that define the American spirit have been tossed out the window. Instead of a healthy exchange of ideas, there is intimidation and smothering of free speech, and fear that if you exhibit certain political or religious affiliations, you will face verbal or physical abuse.

Moreover, what’s dangerous about this divisive atmosphere is that when there is no unity in mainstream society, it appears on the fringes in forms of Nazism and fascism.

Letting matters develop as they have been will result in an even more divided, contentious, and violent American society. Therefore, unity of the entire American people is imperative to keeping the American society intact.

Having said that, I do hold great hope in the unity of the American people. It requires major changes in the country’s socio-economic infrastructure, most notably in education and the media, but I believe that America’s pioneering spirit can bring about a positive, creative transformation during these tough times.

In terms of education, as I proposed in one of my previous columns, the establishment of basic income for participating in connection-enriching educational programs would tackle the problem of social division directly, and bring about improvements in the economy, as well as in social health and well-being.

In terms of the media, instead of the constant barrage of divisive messaging, the media should aim to promote ideas and examples of the kind of unity America needs. It should primarily address America’s main problem head on: the country is divided, which negatively affects its citizens and weakens the country, and that the way to a greater America is to work on achieving nationwide unity.

By coupling a more unifying media discourse with a connection-enriching educational agenda, people would learn how to accept, understand, and get along with everyone, and become influenced by a new atmosphere of mutual understanding, support, awareness and sensitivity. As a result, there would be reduced violence, crime, substance abuse and increased happiness in society.

America still has a chance. By emphasizing the unity of the entire American society, the American spirit can be revived. Today’s American Dream, however, needs to revise its surge of motivation through a new vision: people of different cultures coming together to find happiness through social cohesion. If the American people don’t realize their need for unity in a positive way, then the negative versions of unity—Nazism and fascism—will increasingly close in on society from both sides.
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Newsmax: “Trump Can Awaken Nation By Declaring Opioids Emergency“

The largest portal Newsmax published my new article “Trump Can Awaken Nation by Declaring Opioids Emergency

When President Donald J. Trump declares the opioid crisis a national emergency, it should give his administration the power to divert more funds, assign more manpower, and cut some red tape. Declaring national emergency to address an addiction epidemic is an unprecedented move, as it is typically reserved for short-term emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Yet there is much debate on whether this move will actually help in solving such a complex matter. With 91 Americans dying from opioid overdoses every day, this number has now quadrupled in less than two decades, making opioids the number one killer of Americans under 50. That’s more than guns, car accidents and cancer. If we once thought that only certain communities are affected, today it’s all over the map.

In order to address a rapidly growing addiction of such magnitude, it is not enough to equip police officers with naloxone, expand controlled medications for addicts, or open more detox centers. These could alleviate the symptoms of the crisis, but won’t treat the addiction epidemic at its root.

What’s more, trying to hold the gigantic pharmaceutical companies accountable is a battle lost from the outset; Cracking down on doctors pressures them to under-prescribe, driving users to look for heroin on the streets a lot sooner, as was clearly shown in the case of Florida; the so called “war on drugs” has been recognized as a colossal failure; and that leaves some to blame the addicts themselves, which is like beating the messenger instead of reading the message.

The message we should heed is clear as a bell: we must look into the sociological factors that drive this addiction to massive proportions. In other words, we have to ask more profound questions such as “What makes people in our society turn to opiates to begin with?” And, “What is our society not doing to prevent the making of ever increasing numbers of opioid addicts?”

The Craving for Opiates Is a Craving for Connection

First, it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of opioid abusers don’t start from taking them for genuine physical pain. Rather, in most cases, those who abuse opiates turn to them due to a different kind of pain — an emotional pain.

There are opioid receptors all over our bodies, and they are designed to balance emotions such as panic and anxiety, in addition to physical pain. When we were babies, the milk we got from our mothers was rich with opioids, and when someone gives us a hug today, our brain stem generates opioids.

Many might be surprised to learn that, likewise, social support, mutual trust, a romantic relationship, a loving family or even just a safe and positive social climate, all drive the production of opioids right within our body. Thus, the need for opiates is deeply intertwined with our inherent wiring for human connection.

With this in mind, let’s look at what’s happening today: Our society actually makes people so stressed, anxious and lonely that their naturally balanced, healthy supply of opioids just doesn’t cut it. To put it into a simple social equation: We generate a lot more alienation, uncertainty and stress than we generate safety, compassion, and camaraderie.

Therefore, masses of people turning to artificial opiates can be seen as a natural counter-balance to an off-balance society.

A Wakeup Call for American Culture

Trump stated that the entire world has a drug problem, not just America. He’s right about that. What’s interesting about the opiate crisis is that it’s as if nature is telling us exactly what we need to change within our society.

This crisis exposes the deeply interconnected nature of the social species called humanity. We are connected with each other to our core, like cells in a single organism, and we are naturally drawn to each other for a sense of support and security. Both our biological and psychological resilience depend on positive and healthy relations within our social environment. And just like cells in a body, when we lose touch with the body as a whole, we grow sick and degenerate until we die.

However, this drug crisis also joins a list of other painful symptoms, all converging to show us that we cannot escape a massive transformation of Western culture. We have to acknowledge our dire need for healthy human connections and positive social climates. And sooner or later, we will have to actively heal our broken society.

In order to do that, we need to tap into the same mechanism we currently abuse – our inherent wiring for human connection. There is a method of circle-style workshops that provide safe and positive social interaction. These should be introduced into our workplaces, schools, retirement homes, and even kindergartens. They should be on our TV screens and all around the virtual world, so that anyone, long before they turn to opiate abuse, could easily find a supportive community that generates warm human connection.

Once we begin to do that, people will discover the natural high we are wired to experience just from being positively connected to each other. This kind of high won’t just solve opiate addiction, it will take us out of the narrow prism through which we view our social reality and empower us to envision how to reshape our societies.

We live in a time where the nature of human development compels us to deepen our connection to each other and enter a new level of human experience. The longer we stall, the more frustrated we will become, and more addiction will ensue. Instead, we should open our eyes to see the great opportunity for social progress that lies at hand.
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