In my regular column in Jewish Business News, my new article: “Starving People Make The UN Fat“
“More than 20 million people face starvation and famine.” Where has the UN been until today? Gorging at their expense.
On December 20, 2016, the Internet site Big Think wrote about Swedish billionaire László Szombatfalvy’s launch of an “international competition in order to find a better system for world governance.” To explain the reasons behind the competition, a letter published on the foundation’s website states that “The greatest threats we face today transcend national boundaries; they therefore need to be addressed jointly by all countries based on an increased realization of our mutual dependence.”
And if one might ponder why Mr. Szombatfalvy did not approach the UN for this sort of undertaking, as that should be the default entity for carrying out global transformations, the fund’s website reflects the billionaire’s view of the UN. According to the site, “Our current international system – including but not limited to the United Nations – was set up in another era following the Second World War. It is no longer fit for purpose to deal with 21st century risks that can affect people anywhere in the world. We urgently need fresh new thinking in order to address the scale and gravity of today’s global challenges, which have outgrown the present system’s ability to handle them.”
Indeed they have. Less than a week ago, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, stated that “more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.” Mr. O’Brien also said that “$4.4bn was needed by July to avert disaster.”O’Brien has been in office for nearly two years now. Where has he been for the past two years? Where has the UN been? Starvation of twenty million people, nearly 1.4M of whom are children, does not happen overnight. Why has the UN not alerted the world that this was unfolding? All of a sudden, harrowing images of emaciated little children are taking over the newsfeeds. Could the warning not be sounded earlier?
As Mr. Szombatfalvy noted on his site, the UN is a defunct, irrelevant entity. It is rotten to the core. The sole interests of the politicians and diplomats who serve in it are their paychecks and promoting their careers. The billions of dollars the organization already gets could have cured the world’s problems several times over. They could have shipped a few million of the 1.3 billion tons of excess food trashed each year and solved this crisis, but they have no interest in doing so. Starving children bring in donations. Feeding them would dry up the flow of money and kill this cash cow.
To understand just how warped the perception of the UN is concerning its task, consider this piece of information concerning the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). On its Frequently Asked Questions page, UNICEF USA refutes the “vicious” and unsubstantiated rumor that Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, “earns more than $1 million.” In truth, the organization proclaims, Mrs. Stern “earns $521,820.” Indeed, a CEO who is a role model of austerity.
In Search of Viable Governance
To “find a better system for world governance,” as Mr. Szombatfalvy put it, we need to start at the root cause of all the problems. In 1964, Nobel Prize laureate in physics Dennis Gabor wrote, “Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature.” More than fifty years later, we are still reluctant to accept the truth in these simple words.
In fact, we have been told since Biblical times that “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21), but until recently, when we began to talk about the narcissism epidemic engulfing the Western world, we obstinately tried to circumvent the problem rather than solve it.
Over the eons, humanity has tried every conceivable means of governance—from slavery to feudalism to capitalism to liberalism, to fascism, Nazism, communism and every other ism in between. But if you look in the annals of history, you will find that we have been swaying from one brutality to the next. More than anything, our history is one long bloodbath. We have not found a single means of governance that is both sustainable and guarantees the well-being of all human beings. And the reason we have not found it is that we are narcissistic and selfish to the core.
Therefore, if we truly want to help ourselves and others, we must address two issues. The first is provision of sustenance. In a world where so much food gets lost or wasted, it is unconscionable to let other human beings starve. The food already exists, so all we need is to collect and ship it where it’s needed. The second issue in the healing process is a long-term educational program that will prevent crises from recurring. This is the issue I would like to focus on.
You Cannot Know Unless You Try
In a TED talk given in May 2010, acclaimed American sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis stated that human beings form a kind of superorganism. Approximately eighty years prior, acclaimed commentator of The Book of Zohar, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, wrote that “we have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society.” He also added that “in our generation, when each person is aided for his happiness by all the countries in the world … the possibility of leading a good, happy, and peaceful life in one country is inconceivable when it is not so in all the countries in the world.” Ashlag admitted that “people have not yet grasped this,” but stressed that it is only because “the act comes before the understanding, and only actions will prove and push humanity forward.”
In other words, we will not feel that we are a single superorganism (as Christakis put it) until we begin to act as one. Once we begin to “experiment” with this, we will suddenly realize that this has been the case all along, yet we were unaware of it.
Consider this interesting fact: The only nation to have survived since antiquity is the Jewish nation. The Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman nations have all vanished. Only Judaism remains. Numerous scholars, philosophers, philo-Semites and anti-Semites have pondered, “What is the secret of his immortality?” as Mark Twain asked about the Jew.
The answer is that there is a fundamental difference between the Jews and all the other nations. The secret to the endurance of the Jews is the adhesive of unity. The original Jews were completely unaffiliated, coming from different tribes and cultures. The only thing that held them together was Abraham’s idea that mercy and love are the foundation stones upon which to build society, and that whenever the ego erupts, they should cover it with love instead of fighting or parting ways. This approach had held the Jews together through crises and wars for approximately 1,500 years—from Abraham’s time until the ruin of the Second Temple some two millennia ago.
Moreover, history has proven that this “cement” of unity that covers egoism is so strong that it not only sustained the Jewish people longer than any other nation, but kept them in tact through countless attempts to destroy, disperse, and exterminate them. Although today’s Jews have forgotten what had sustained them for centuries, the persistent strength of that adhesive is still strong enough to keep this nation in existence.
Implementing Unity above Enmity
This historic proof is our key to solving the world’s problems. Unity over egoism is the one mode of governance the world has not yet tried. But in the face of current crises—the risk of another world war, mass starvation, accelerated global warming, and pollution of natural resources—I think that we have no other choice but to give this approach a serious consideration. Of all people, it was notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford who wrote, “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.” On this point, he could not be more right.
As Ashlag said, “the act comes before the understanding.” Today, we are implementing Abraham’s principle of unity above enmity defacto. After numerous successful unity events throughout the world, including in conflict zones such as in Israel, with Arabs and Jews (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3 [the latter is in Hebrew, switch on the Subtitles option]), we are certain that we can reinstate our forefather’s method in large scale. Even people who have tried this notion independently, after reading my book, Completing the Circle: an empirically proven method for finding peace and harmony in life, have testified to its positive impact on their lives.
In my view, until we deal with the heart of the problem, which is the egoism in human nature, and do so specifically in the way that Abraham bequeathed to his disciples, by bonding atop their animosity, we will find no remedy to our woes. The notion that we need not suppress our unruly egos, but simply exert to unite above them may be a novel idea to some, but in my view, we have run out of options and this is the only way to spare humanity many more years of needless torment.
And finally, I would advise Mr. Szombatfalvy, that if he wishes to try out Abraham’s method of connection, and help the world “find a better system for world governance,” as he put it, to take our free materials and spread them the world over. Our non-profit, voluntary organization does its utmost to circulate this notion of unity. If he or any other capable and understanding individual may assist us in this task, we would be more than happy to provide whatever is required.