Chapter 10: Living In an Integrated World
An Integrated World Requires Integral Education
In the previous chapter, we quoted Baal HaSulam’s words from his essay, “The Freedom,” stating that we are “compelled to think and examine as they [social environment] suggest,” and we are “denied of any strength to criticize or change.”[i] Baal HaSulam concluded that to avoid a predetermined fate, we can change the environment, which will in turn change us and our fates. In his words, “One who strives to continually choose a better environment is worthy of praise and reward … not because of one’s good thoughts and deeds …but because of one’s efforts to acquire a good environment, which brings … good thoughts.”[ii]
To put it in a more contemporary context, in order to channel our lives and the lives of our children in a positive direction, we need to foster social values that promote the positive direction we wish to instill. We need to educate ourselves, our children, and society at large toward mutual guarantee, mutual responsibility, and eventually toward unity and cohesion. As has been demonstrated throughout the book, it is our vocation as Jews.
We need not conceive any new means of education to achieve this goal. All we need is to shift the means we already use—mass media, the internet, the education system, and our social and familial ties—toward promoting kinship and mutual responsibility, instead of the prevailing narrative of separation and alienation.
Although more often than not, the traits of unity and kinship—and most of all, of mutual responsibility—are dormant within us Jews, it is our duty, indeed our vocation to awaken them and offer them as our gift to the world. As has been shown repeatedly in this book, unity is the gift of the Jews, the quality that makes us unique, and the quality we must bestow upon the rest of the world. It is this quality that the world needs today, and it is we who are obliged to nurture it within, and then hand it over to the world.
There are two ways to convey mutual guarantee and the quality of bestowal. The first, intended for those with “points in the heart,” as mentioned earlier in the book, is a straightforward study of Kabbalah. According to one’s level of interest, it can be done at varying levels of intensity, from watching TV shows to studying intently (and intensely) with a group and a teacher. The other way is a method of unity-oriented education intended to induce cohesion and a sense of mutual responsibility within the society. I will elaborate on these ways one at a time.
[i] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Freedom,” 419.