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Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Mass shootings are the symptom, not the illness”
The recent barrage of mass shootings has emphasized the need for less tolerant gun laws and for other restrictive measures. While it is obvious that mentally unstable people should not be permitted to carry or own guns, it is also evident that gun restrictions alone will not abate gun violence. The whole society has become violent and aggressive, and people’s sensitivity to violence is decreasing. Today, people almost expect mass shootings to happen. Therefore, stopping it requires more than gun laws; it requires finding its root and plucking it out.
Even a few decades ago, people did not feel so removed from one another. Alienation in society has increased to such levels that today’s normal levels of antagonism toward society would have been diagnosed as narcissism at the turn of the century. Worse yet, the level of division and hostility in society is constantly rising, and at an accelerating rate.
The ego itself is not inherently corrupt. Our entire development has relied on our ego. As it evolved, it developed human society, technology, art and culture, and medicine. Were it not for our ego, we would not have civilization.
However, because the ego is the basis of our actions, whether we are aware of it or not, there are always aggression and violence between us. At times it is overt, and at times covert, but it is always there. This is why for all our efforts, we cannot create a just society.
Human nature demands superiority, dominion, prominence. As a result, as long as we do not change human nature, there will always be ubiquitous oppression and abuse in our society, in every conceivable and inconceivable form. We conceal that drive for superiority behind “benign” terms like “competition” and “motivation,” but underneath lies the same evil inclination that pushes us to climb to the top of the heap, preferably by stepping on everybody else’s heads.
Therefore, in order to curb violence, including mass shootings, we need to “self-reform” human nature. In other words, we need to decide that we must change ourselves if we want our lives to be safer and more peaceful.
Even more important, the urgency for change must percolate large portions of society because one cannot change one’s attitude toward society without a society that supports it and strives for the same goal. Therefore, once we decide to change, we must establish community-wide educational programs that will focus not on curbing violence, but on enhancing empathy toward others, on fostering solidarity and mutual responsibility.
In order to succeed in the transition from an alienated and violent society into a cohesive and caring one, it is important not to focus on the negative, but to enhance the positive. Because the ego is constantly evolving, focusing on the negative makes us try to suppress it until we are exhausted and it bursts out even more violently than before. In addition, we have wasted our time on futile efforts and did not build an alternative to violent egoism, so there is no alternative to choose instead of more violence.
To create a positive alternative to egoism and violence, we need to foster positive values in society so we can base the relationships in our communities on them. The more energy we put into nurturing positive connections among people, the more positive will be the atmosphere in the community. This, in turn, will diminish the overall levels of violence and aggression.
For any transformation to succeed, our rule of thumb should be enhancing the positive rather than constraining the negative. If we work in this way concerning violence in the community, we will succeed. If we settle for stricter gun control, matters will continue to go downhill.
Question: Today they write a lot about such a phenomenon as “the end of the world.” Not in the sense that we will cease to exist but as the beginning of a certain period where you do not know what to do. What is this stage in the development of mankind?
Answer: It is a wonderful stage!
We were born and live now in a period when the first generation was born in our world that really got off the trees, not because we have developed technologically and are able to make all kinds of cars, locomotives, and airplanes, but because we have come to a state where we have to decide why we have appeared on this globe at all, what we should do on it, and how to truly realize ourselves.
Such a monkey appeared, developed into a little man, looked around, and thought: “And what am I for?” It looked around a bit more, saw all this: “Well, okay. And what’s next?”
Today we are coming very close to this issue in our historical development: “Why did we appear? We climbed down from trees and developed technology and social structure. What’s next? Does man have some higher purpose?”
Of course, this is not a simple question. Until it cuts through humanity, until it is realized from within that this is precisely what we are asking, that this question is a challenge that nature poses to us so that we realize and in the end give ourselves an answer or at least begin to look for an answer to the question of the meaning of life. This is a very special moment, and this generation—it is special too.
So, it is searching, without understanding why and how, trying to solve all these issues either through terror, drugs, divorce, all kinds of searches, adventures, or space, no matter what. These attempts, everything we do is practically a search for an answer about the meaning of life.
Let’s say I am heading somewhere. We see that all space programs are being curtailed: “Well, what will we find there? Stones. Nothing else.” And what will we find in some technological developments? Or in culture? We once thought that with the help of culture we would develop ourselves. And all of a sudden, they were exhausted. In the 19th century this practically ended.
The 20th century came, the century of technology: nano-technologies, computers, everything. Today we are coming to a state where the Internet connects everyone together, and we suddenly see that we are working with a machine, that is what is interesting. A person begins to discover that his connection is mainly with machines even if he communicates with other people through them.
These are machine responses, this is automation, and there is nothing here. A person wants to go out somewhere, to escape! But in which direction can he go?
And if not, then again: back to drugs, to some kind of reassurance, just to forget. Why are sport games so developed today? All governments want to shift the attention of the masses to football and other games. Occupy people! The main thing is to forget yourself. That is why such a large number of media outlets are aimed at this.
And if you look ahead, the development of technology does not stop, and billions more unemployed people will appear in the world, not millions, but billions of people with good qualifications who can do everything. And what to do?
With the help of new technologies, we will soon come to a state where 5% of the world’s population will be able to provide for everyone else. What is next? Overabundance on one hand. The lack of distribution on the other.
In general, we are in a state of misunderstanding the meaning of life. That is the most important thing we need to answer.
From KabTV’s “Close-Up. Around the World” 2/20/11
Question: You talk about a kind of global connection that thinking people detect and feel. Does this mean that if we don’t consciously reveal this connection, it is revealed by negative cataclysms, strikes, and perhaps even world wars?
In other words, the same formula is satisfied, only we participate in it as a negative element. All we had to do in nature was to come to balance with it. And now we are reaping the fruits of this imbalance in the form of all kinds of cataclysms.
It’s the same with a child: If he behaves well, his parents also treat him well, if he behaves badly, then his parents treat him badly. In fact, they treat him normally, it’s just that the correction of nature is set up that way.
Nature does not have any defined scheme. It has an absolutely clear system, and it is unchangeable. This is not some god who sits somewhere in the sky and commands as he wants, but a huge universal formula for global balance.
And we are getting more and more out of this balance. As we develop, we increasingly violate nature and our attitude toward it. Therefore, it naturally treats us the opposite way. We put ourselves in opposition to it, and we feel this opposition as all sorts of crises and problems.
People should understand that they need not suppress each other, but they need to start working with each other in real unity where not just borders between countries, but also all differences between people are canceled, when they begin to strive for connections with each other, try to eliminate all kinds of cultural and ethnic contradictions separating them, to reach mutual understanding that we are all one humanity, one Babylon, and we must come to mutual support, brotherhood, and mutual concessions.
Question: You are not talking about some external declarations that are fixed on paper and carry nothing internally, but about an internal message?
Answer: Not about the message, but about the realization of our inner connection, when it will be felt by the common nature. Only then will we get rid of all the problems that we cause by our imbalance with nature.
By hating others, I evoke a negative reaction from nature. It seems to us, what difference does it make if I hate someone or I have a conflict with someone. But by this I cause a negative reaction of nature on myself and on the rest of the world.
From KabTV’s “Close-Up. Europe Today” 1/26/11
There was no theater, shows, circus, stadiums, or human performances in front of a huge audience. There was no such concept at all. All this came to us from Ancient Rome.
The Greeks, and then the Romans, having captured Jerusalem, built stadiums there, an amphitheater in Caesarea, and so on. But this has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism.
Judaism never followed this path. There was an opportunity to build anything. But this is not in the nature of the ideology itself, which is aimed at the inner development of a person.
Therefore, there was no painting or even special music, but only one that is aimed at deepening within oneself, perceiving the world through oneself. There are no statues, external decorations, special clothes, special ornaments, or any kind of architecture. Nothing! Everything is as simplistic as possible, outwardly very rational.
From KabTV’s “I Got a Call. Features of Judaism” 5/22/14
Comment: Two thousand years ago it was written in The Book of Zohar that the Earth is round.
My Response: It turns out that the unfortunate Giordano Bruno was burned, and the Kabbalists were sitting somewhere in silence.
The fact is that it was impossible to reveal this to people ahead of time, otherwise, all Kabbalists would have been burned. The Book of Zohar contains such things that humanity has discovered not only in the last two thousand years but there are those we have yet to discover. Still, we do not talk about them.
It is not necessary for a person to know more than he himself achieves through his work. As it is, we have revealed too much, it would have been better if we knew less. After all, most of our discoveries are not good for us.
Everything that a person has done after he left the cave or descended from the tree, he does only to his own detriment since technological progress overtakes moral progress.
We are not even trying to make ourselves better and naturally adapt nature for ourselves. We try to artificially clothe ourselves in some kind of cocoon and be independent of nature, independent of the Creator. It does not work.
We are constantly in a race of how to protect ourselves, how to secure ourselves. We nevertheless come to a failure.
From KabTV’s “Close-Up. Pole Inversion” 5/15/11