In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “Obama’s Legacy of Incompetence, and a New Hope Arising“
Following Obama’s eight years from hell, his would be successor, Hillary Clinton, didn’t stand a chance.
On December 26, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece titled “Obama’s Fitting Finish” lambasting not only Obama’s final weeks in office, but his entire presidency. According to Stephens, in just eight years, Obama has entangled the US military in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Pakistan, dissolved the US alliances with Egypt and Turkey, empowered Iran, reignited the Cold War with Russia, sent millions of Muslim migrants into the heart of Europe, and shredded the US alliance with Israel. During his term, the US national debt has doubled, the middle class has diminished significantly, mostly due to downward mobilization, and healthcare has become ineffective and expensive. On the home front, racial tensions have risen to levels not seen since the 1960s, gun violence has skyrocketed, anti-Semitism has become mainstream, and Muslim terrorism has become an oft-seen incident on American soil. When you look at all the damage that this one president has done, you understand that his ideological successor, Hillary Clinton, didn’t stand a chance. People have had enough.
The pretense of the liberal Left has been exposed: a dictatorship of the financial elite. People will not be fooled anymore; their checking accounts are telling them the truth about the economy and the policy that has engendered their hardships. Political correctness (a key weapon in the liberalism mass-manipulation campaign) may have stifled people’s free speech, but it did not deter them from expressing their views at the ballot box. Their message is, “The time of unhinged exploitation of the masses by the ruling elite is over.”
The End of the Ego Era
As long as capitalism was based on a reasonable level of egoism, where people worked to sustain themselves and their families, the economy was moving forward. But the ego is like cancer; it doesn’t stop growing and spreading until it kills its host. Today’s level of egoism has become noxious narcissism. Women are marrying themselves, children are changing their sexes before they reach their teens, yet if someone dares to suggest that there is something unusual about these phenomena, the guardians of political correctness will label them as backward/chauvinist/bigot, or all the above and then some. On the altar of our self-absorption, we are sacrificing our happiness.
Why have so many studies concluded that the single most important thing we can do for our happiness is to connect with other people? Why did the Talmud state, “That which you hate, do not do unto your neighbor; this is the whole of the Torah” (Masechet Shabbat, 31a), and why did Rabbi Akiva add, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the great rule of the Torah? Also, why did both offshoots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, adopt Rabbi Akiva’s tenet as their own, and why have so many belief systems adopted the Golden Rule, which requires that we treat others the way we would like to be treated? The single answer to all of these questions is that human connection, loving other people and being loved by them are the things that make us happy. This is human nature. When you focus solely on yourself, you end up marrying yourself. Then, by default, you are unhappy because you have gone against your own nature, but political correctness won’t let you admit it even to yourself. When this is the state of society, can we be surprised that immediately after being forced to sit with their families during Christmas, youths across the US turned malls into war zones?
If we stay on this route, governments, which are currently settling for sedating people by doping them through legalized marijuana, will feel compelled to cull people like farmers cull sick poultry and cattle. Humanity’s only sustainable alternative to this morass is to end the Ego Era and relearn how to connect.
One of the most trending topics in Silicon Valley and other places where people are concerned with the future of humanity is Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI means that if you are alive, you deserve to receive enough money to sustain yourself with dignity. In the US, academics and opinion leaders such as hi-tech mogul Elon Musk, co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, acclaimed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking have not only expressed their support of the idea that people will not have to work to secure their daily bread, but even engage in finding practical solutions to implement this.
Around the world, governments are taking interest in UBI, possibly as a means to avoid social unrest. Canada is about to launch a pilot in Prince Edward Island Province, and Fife Council in Scotland is currently considering a trial UBI scheme. Next year, the Netherlands will launch what The Atlantic dubbed, the “money-for-nothing experiment,” which guarantees residents in Utrecht and surrounding cities “a flat sum of €960 per month.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of UBI. However, if we settle for giving people money to live, without helping them find meaning in connection, which we determined was the basis for happiness, then what happened in the US malls after Christmas will look like ripples in a bathtub compared to a tsunami.
Back to the Golden Rule
In order to secure our personal future and the future of society, we need to shake off alienation and reteach ourselves the joy of caring for each other. We can do this easily by providing people with a Universal Basic Income, on condition that they partake in connection trainings where they will learn how to communicate positively with one another, how to reestablish trust with family and friends, how to channel aggression away from violence and toward creativity, and other such topics.
I have seen many examples of people who were previously suspicious and antagonistic warm up to one another on a very deep level. An organization whose work I cherish has done wonders to help communities come together through nurturing their social cohesion. Liberated from economic concerns for themselves and for their families, people will happily partake in such trainings because of the immediate benefit from improving social ties.
People who will still work, in order to keep the chain of provision running, will also benefit from the social transformation because the atmosphere in their neighborhoods and homes will improve. In addition, employed people will not be left out of the trainings altogether. They will partake in trainings on a limited basis and will understand the basic concepts of the social shift that society is undergoing. In this way, they will voluntarily partake in it, and should they become jobless, they will easily find their way in the new social ambience.
Over time, senior students at the connection trainings will themselves become teachers, expanding the reach of the transformation to more and more communities. As the positive effect of the transformation ripples out, the social benefits of the spirit of connection will reduce hostility, allowing municipalities and states to reduce expenditures on policing and social services. Since depression is caused largely by social disconnection, people’s higher spirits and renewed sense of purpose will improve their health and depression related illnesses will drastically decline. This, in turn, will save billions of dollars to the country’s struggling healthcare system. Along with depression, substance abuse will drop, as people will have no need to escape from an undesirable reality. As people learn new and meaningful ways to connect and communicate, hopelessness will transform into hopefulness.
A Paradigm Shift
The transformation we are seeing is not a “blooper” of history; it is part of a paradigm shift that will see us all rejoicing in affinity and closeness. Human nature will eventually force us to adjust ourselves and our societies to its requirement that we will thrive through positive connections. Since we already know this, we can avoid the unforgiving consequences of compulsory transformation. We can and should initiate the transformation by ourselves, and usher humanity into a new era of Universal Basic Income for all, coupled with thriving social life and a peaceful international arena.
Assuming Obama does not inflict irreparable damage on the US before he leaves office, it is my sincere hope that in the coming months America will take its first, bold steps toward a brighter future of togetherness, connectedness, and friendship. The American people will benefit from this, as will the entire world.