I understand the push to reopen the economy and return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible.
Lockdown brought on a lot of mental and emotional tension, loneliness and uncertainty in the future, all of which contribute to a yearning to exit the state of isolation and re-enter into our familiar settings.
However, reopening the economy too quickly, without adequate readiness, sets the scene for more hardships.
In such conditions, we can expect a fiercer wave of the coronavirus to sweep over societies, infecting and killing many more people than the first wave, and forcing us into much stricter and harsher social distancing conditions in order to deal with it.
The coronavirus has illuminated both our tight interdependence, as well as our inner detachment from each other.
On one hand, our interdependence became marked by the need to maintain personal hygiene, wear masks and keep social distancing conditions in order to remain disease-free.
On the other hand, our inner detachment became visible in the mental and emotional wear and tear on many during the lockdown.
Therefore, any lasting solution to the coronavirus requires fixing the alienation that many people feel.
Instead of reopening the economy, we would be wiser if we realized that our negative connections to each other are the bigger problem in our lives, and opened new programs that aimed to improve our connections.
If we felt an enveloping togetherness over society, we would then have the means by which we could rise above our negative and dark sensations.
Therefore, we would do well to shift the focus of our attention onto the benefit of society, seeking how to make sure everyone has their needs covered and that they feel cared for, and also to keep in mind that our efforts to keep the virus away from others are ultimately efforts to keep the virus away from ourselves.
The revelation of our tightened interdependence demands an additional push of each person accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of others. If we do so, and society rises to a new level of mutual responsibility, we would then be on track to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Disbanding the police department is a step toward crumbling the communities that it ideally protects and serves.
Police are elemental to societies. They hold a certain level of order, providing a layer in society that helps constrain people’s innate drives to benefit at others’ expense from getting out of hand.
By doing so, police serve to make societies safer places so that people can focus on how they can find their optimal, contributory roles in their respective communities.
For thousands of years, police have held an integral role in societies, providing a sense of security so that we could go about our business and progress scientifically, technologically and culturally.
However, since the police is made up of fellow humans, who share the same egoistic nature as everyone else, it is thus not immune to criminal tendencies within its own ranks, which gives rise to some police officers abusing their role, resorting to unjustified use of violence, brutality and other negative phenomena.
Yet, the entire police force should not be branded according to a few of its members that get out of line.
Since the question about disbanding the police department is on the table, we can ask what would a police-free society require?
Police-free societies would be possible if societies thought and acted with much more mutual responsibility and consideration than we have today.
Such a state is reachable through regular connection-enriching education, which is currently elusive from society.
In other words, the attitudes and relationships dwelling among society would need a major upgrade to replace the regulative police layer with a new regulator that acts within each and every person.
Such a regulating force acting within people would only be possible if the social atmosphere was filled with new values of mutual responsibility and consideration, where benefiting others would be valued more dearly than self-benefit.
Society would then feel close like a family.
It is, however, impossible to reach a positive social atmosphere if we fail to engage in learning that aims to bring about such an improvement.
Today’s society is far from upholding values of mutual responsibility and consideration, and thus requires police departments to sustain a certain level of order.
In general, any increased amount of freedom that we acquire needs to be preceded by thorough learning of how to relate to the increased amount of freedom responsibly. Otherwise, our egoistic drives to benefit at others’ expense will put that increased amount of freedom to use on account of others, and we’d find ourselves steeped in deeper problems.
“At least 14 states have seen an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations since Memorial Day weekend. Arizona is now seeing more than 1,000 new daily cases and the state’s former health director is sounding the alarm,” reported CBS This Morning (June 12, 2020).
The coronavirus pays no attention to the fact that we are reopening our economies and trying to return to our pre-coronavirus lives.
It will continue infecting more and more people until we undergo a serious attitude adjustment.
What is that adjustment?
It is a shift of our center of concern: from self-concern to concern about others.
In other words, we naturally think about what we need to do in order to protect ourselves and our families.
The coronavirus, however, has emerged to show us that we need to redirect our concern toward others: that we think about what we need to do in order to protect other people, providing them with the conditions to stay healthy and virus-free.
We all depend on each other maintaining certain conditions in order to stop the virus’ spread, including the maintenance of thorough personal hygiene, wearing masks and holding our physical distance from each other.
Therefore, if we uphold such conditions not with our own protection, but with the protection of others, primarily in mind, then we will be able to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
By exercising an intention for others’ benefit to the actions we conduct in order to stop the virus’ spread, then in addition to overcoming the coronavirus, we will also reach the understanding that we can truly be protected from disease and other harmful phenomena when we consider others.
If we concentrate on the protection and benefit of others, our community and society, then instead of a virus spreading illness and death, we would generate a positive virus that spreads health, well-being, peace and happiness.
Therefore, we would be wise to relate to the coronavirus not just as a disease or pandemic, but as a lesson in our interdependence: that others’ health and well-being depends on us caring about them, and likewise, our own health and well-being depends on others caring about us.
Racism is rooted in our self-centered human nature, which makes us identify with and like what is similar to us in others, and detach from and hate what is different.
We all share a variety of physical and psychological differences, which we inherit from birth and from our surrounding society.
These differences pose no problem in and of themselves.
The problem is the egoistic attitude running like a motor within each of us, which seeks to elevate itself above others.
Our egoistic attitude prioritizes self-benefit over benefiting others.
It looks at others’ differences as a means for putting them down, in order to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.
The more we develop, the more our egos grow, the more we see others as different from ourselves, and we can thus expect hatred for others’ differences—whether racial hatred, or hatred due to conflicting political, religious or other ideological views—to increase and continue tearing away at society.
There is hope to mend our rifts if we learn the nature of our hatred and differences, and how we can rise above them peacefully.
What Is the Nature of Our Differences?
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that human differences are sourced in the interactions between two fundamental desires: giving and receiving.
Every item in reality contains a specific blend of four phases of giving and receiving, and our many physical and psychological characteristics also contain these four phases.
Without delving into details about these four phases (which is done extensively in the study of Kabbalah), in general, this tells us that our differences are nature-given.
It is interesting to note how we are drawn to the beauty of nature’s complementarity when we observe it from aside, for instance, nature’s cycles on biological levels that include a rich diversity of processes, species’ and objects harmoniously operating in myriad give-and-take relations on inanimate, vegetative and animate levels to sustain the ecosystems we inhabit.
In human society, however, we struggle greatly with our differences.
One way or another, our differences lead us to division—the identification with what is similar to us in others, and detachment from and hatred of what is different.
The more we will remain divided, the more we will experience negative phenomena in our lives, from a general distaste in the social climate to conflicts and violence.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Regardless of how aware we are of the fact, nature guides us to increasingly intricate connection, and we will have to make some serious decisions about how we relate to our tightening bonds sooner or later.
As evolution biologists have shown, evolution leads organisms through a process of diversity and individuation, through conflict, which is then solved by collaboration and more advanced connection.
Likewise, the process by which our planet has become an increasingly interconnected and interdependent web of influences shows us that nature views us as a single connected entity, above the fact that it hosts us with many individual differences.
If we only tweak our attitudes to our connection, spreading the idea of our fundamental oneness as a human race, and promoting ideas of mutual support, consideration and contribution above our differences, then our differences would each serve to uniquely express and uphold an umbrella of love over society.
We are being driven to realize that we all make up a rich and diverse humanity, and we can all play a role in striving to look beyond our divisive drives in order to envision the tremendous connection we all share.
We would then revere and accept our differences since we would love each other.
We would see how we each offer the immense interconnected system we are parts of, different flavors and colors that we otherwise would lack, that each person can make a unique contribution to society.
The key is in adjusting our overriding intention above our differences: that we aim to strengthen, contribute to, and grow our common possession of society, praising the various expressions that aim to build an atmosphere of love over our many differences.
Following the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent heavy criticism on police departments around the US, we now see motions to disband and lower funding to police departments.
For example, in Minneapolis, its city council announced plans to disband its police department and invest in community-based public safety programs, and in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio publicized plans to divert funding initially planned for the NYPD instead to social services.
Disbanding and cutting funding to police departments demonstrates the authorities’ growing awareness in the public’s loss of trust in the police. The positive aspect of such recognition is that it highlights a broken aspect of our lives that needs fixing. However, building trust in anything that is soaked in doubt and suspicion is no easy and fast task.
Since times are changing fast, the authorities would be wise to revise how they protect and serve their respective publics to keep up with the pace of change.
The recent coronavirus pandemic as well as George Floyd’s killing show us two clear examples of how an incident that takes place in one place of the world ends up having global repercussions, affecting masses of people in many different ways.
In the coronavirus’ case, a tiny particle that started infecting people in Wuhan, China, spread to become a global pandemic, infecting and killing people in the millions around the world, as well as affecting many millions more socially and economically. Also, in terms of George Floyd’s killing, a single unjustified murder and act of police brutality caught on video sparked a US-wide response of protests and riots.
We clearly live in interdependent times. Therefore, any move by authorities to build trust with the publics they serve should seek to raise public awareness of how to realize today’s quickly-surfacing interdependence positively, as well as provide a supportive and protective layer in society to deal with the variety of crises emerging.
Simply put, if people would feel good, happy and safe, then the authorities that serve to bring about such sensations would gain their trust.
What, then, could the authorities do in order to activate positive sensations in the public?
What I propose is a renewed focus in the field of education.
Since our times are changing fast, and we make swift strides from a past paradigm of competitive individualism to a new paradigm of interdependence, we all require an upgrade in how we think about and relate to the world, to nature and to other people.
What is that upgrade?
It is that we develop relations of mutual consideration, responsibility, support, encouragement, love and care above our divisive drives, thereby realizing our interdependence positively.
Authorities could play a major role in such an upgrade by funding the creation of educational programs that aim to bring about these positive outcomes and better connections in society.
I have written extensively about providing basic income in exchange for participation in educational programs, which teach how to manage ourselves in an interdependent world, and how this idea is supported by the expectation that unemployment will grow immensely in the coming years.
Such a system would serve to provide people’s essential needs, as well as tools for people to improve their connections, and manage their lives and homes in an interdependent world.
Basic income in exchange for participation in connection-enriching education would aim to upgrade everyone’s sense of responsibility and concern for their surrounding societies, and due to a newfound positive atmosphere sweeping through society that the authorities served to establish, trust in the authorities would also be revived.
If we look at our current state, after the coronavirus illuminated our mutual responsibility toward each other in terms of adhering to maintaining good personal hygiene, social distancing conditions and wearing masks in order to stop the virus’ spread, we see that when the vision of George Floyd’s murder angered millions of people, our emotions breached many restrictions we held toward each other as many resorted to taking their aggravation out by looting and causing destruction to many small businesses.
In other words, there is still a strong sense of detachment, indifference and hatred in society that we should seek to mend if we wish for more just, safer and positive conditions.
Connection-enriching educational programs coupled with basic income would aim to heal such social division by increasing our sense of mutual responsibility and consideration.
As a result of improved social connections, we would also be on the way to solving many personal and social problems, such as depression, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and many kinds of abuse, violence and conflicts. Therefore, much of the budget that goes into dealing with those problems could eventually be redirected to further strengthening the services that benefit society. That is, the authorities could consider such a system as an investment, not merely as services.
In short, instead of discussing whether the US could survive without police departments, we would be wiser to ask:
What could help the US survive and prosper heading into the future?
Also, what changes would the US need to implement in order that American society feel safe, confident, and ultimately, happy together, while also regaining trust in the police?
The system I proposed here of providing for people’s essentials in exchange for participation in connection-enriching learning, which would seek to shift society’s values from individualistic and egoistic to mutually considerate and responsible, aims to bridge our social divisions with the positive atmosphere described.
I therefore very much hope that American society will start implementing a major transformation toward more positive connection among its citizens. In addition to the myriad benefits for America’s citizens, the benefits would ripple worldwide, because the world’s eyes are on America, and it has the potential to inspire other countries to follow suit.
Indeed, health experts warn of new coronavirus outbreaks due to the recent protests’ crowded conditions.
Whether or not these protests spur a second wave of the coronavirus, what is more striking is that the common direction to avert more COVID-19 infections has been eclipsed by masses of people’s insistence for justice.
It raises the question: What if the protesters’ strong demand for justice would be slightly redirected, becoming a demand to elevate a common umbrella of love upon America’s rich diversity?
The killing of George Floyd surfaced issues of racism in the US with an uproar of protests and riots, and it followed a period of the coronavirus affecting everyone, from the hundreds of thousands of deaths and infections through the millions of people affected by social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
The same way we can ask whether the coronavirus will return in full force as a result of these protests, we can also ask whether the end of these protests will bring about lasting calmness in American society.
If we fail to treat the problem of social division with a common effort to cover it with love, we can then expect much more social unrest heading into the future.
What does covering divisiveness, opposition and conflict in human society with love require?
It first requires recognizing the source of our divisive drives as the egoistic human nature in each and every person that prefers serving its own individuality over serving society.
Becoming aware of our egoistic nature goes hand-in-hand with acknowledging how a well-oiled society is one that has rich diversity coupled with a common aspiration in all of its members to bridge the diversity with love and compassion.
American society is thus in a perfect position to cover its divisive drives with love.
With a new motivation to apply love upon people’s differences, discrepancies then do not weaken society, but on the contrary, strengthen it.
It can be likened to a human body that has many different cells, organs and tissues, yet when all of its parts work for the sake of a common goal of sustaining the body’s health and well-being, then the many different parts function harmoniously.
However, our differences are a very sensitive issue.
Whether they tear us apart or unify us depends on the values that navigate our lives.
If our leading values are based on egoistic qualities that separate us, then we will experience more and more social conflicts.
If, however, our leading value is positive connection above differences, that we wish our diversity to be enveloped by a common atmosphere of love, then we will experience a new sense of peace sweep throughout society.
Therefore, the current protests in the US should ideally act as a springboard toward a more developed human consciousness, which looks beyond physical features and focuses on how to positively connect from heart to heart.
When we connect in such a way, we will see how we are all parts of a single whole that has an abundance of liveliness to serve each and every person, if only we learn to be mutually considerate and compassionate to each other, and seek to cooperate with each other and complement one another.
Taking a step in such a direction would be truly activating our free will as human beings, as we would then start operating above our inborn egoistic qualities.
Our differences are nature-given.
We have no freedom in them.
Our place of free will is where we can act above our differences in order to create a common wrapping of love, renewing the thought of benefiting others more and more by investing in educating and promoting this idea in society.
We have the knowledge and the resources available today to activate a shift in public opinion that could positively influence every member of society: that we would choose unity above division at every moment that one of our divisive drives rears its ugly head.
It might seem like a distant or even unachievable dream, but the more people work on it together, the more it will spread.
If such efforts persist, then at a certain point, the idea of love covering our differences will become established as a new social norm, together with the blossoming of a new harmonious society of happy, confident and well-connected individuals.
Teenagers are at an age where they start looking for meaning in life. They feel that they’re beginning their lives and consider what directions it should take.
In today’s conditions, this line of thinking brings them to the realization that the directions on offer are meaningless and empty.
Many professions that society respected just a few decades ago have lost public interest. The romanticism of being a scientist or an artist today has become overshadowed by a “make money” mindset. When money making becomes more important than visionary and courageous aspirations to accomplish goals worth striving for, then life loses its meaning.
Today’s teenagers have no ideal worth striving for, i.e., to agree to suffer through all kinds of burdens, training and study in order to achieve something that both they and society consider as great.
Teenage years are those in which we typically want to apply efforts in order to reach worthy goals, and we develop our self-esteem and pride by identifying with a direction in life that supports our direction.
But today, the goals we once strove for have dimmed in importance.
When I was a teenager, I had multiple options laid out before me, and was split between various choices on what to become.
Today, however, teens still hold a need to develop toward a great and respectable goal, but it dissolves in a general atmosphere of disinterest.
On one hand, it is a time of great pressure, with desires running rampant within, and on the other hand, the teenage years have become a time when feelings of emptiness and distaste in the world develop.
Teenagers thus feel lost when no dream inspires them. The indifference and cynicism that arises from rising meaninglessness, emptiness and depression among teenagers can then lead to destructive tendencies. That is, they feel like they want to strike back at the world and at society that offers them nothing, but which simply obligates them to drag on.
Therefore, on one hand, we bear witness to increasing disastrous phenomena like mass shootings and youth suicides, and on the other hand, more and more drug use and immersion in video games and social media as an escape.
Today’s youth are a lost generation. The older generations offer them nothing, and they have nothing to offer themselves.
Why has such a dull situation come about? Also, is there any light at the end of such a darkening tunnel?
This situation has emerged due to humanity reaching a new stage of evolution, in which our competitive-individualistic pursuits are revealed as empty, in order to open a new dimension of existence: one where the emphasis shifts to positive connection among society, or social unity.
While we are in a transitional phase, we experience the greatest darkness, similar to how the greatest pains of childbirth take place right before the baby exits its mother.
However, if we held a wider perspective of human development and our current period in the cycle, we would then see that we are becoming pressured to undergo a major consciousness shift: from a competitive, individualistic and egoistic paradigm to one where we will increasingly have to learn how to live and breathe together as a single interdependent human society worldwide.
If we realize the new tight state of connection that we are being driven toward, and start adapting ourselves and our goals to it, teenagers and adults alike, then we will feel all those motivational and inspirational feelings we once had reopen, and on a whole new level.
The increasing depression among teenagers is in fact a sign of the younger generation becoming readier to undergo the fateful shift to positively connect.
Therefore, adults have a responsibility today to enable the direction to positive connection in society, to create a supportive social environment that the younger generations can fit themselves into.
Enabling positive connection means shifting our attention and appreciation onto positive connection in society. That is, by respecting acts of giving and contribution to society, consideration and care for others, over the respect for making money and gaining power, we will create an atmosphere where more and more people, including teenagers, will want to also contribute positively to society.
Teenagers will then have a newfound fuel by which to aim for adventurous new heights.
Realizing positive connection as a leading value, and then communicating, influencing and educating positive connection throughout society, is indeed a struggle, but one well worth the effort.
It is because, by connecting positively, we enter into balance with our next stage of evolution, and that balance will fill us with new sensations of happiness, motivation, encouragement, support and care, filling in the holes that our current paradigm faces.
The protests around the US that George Floyd’s killing have prompted are showing our true colors.
They display our negative connection to each other.
If we fail to improve our connections, we will end up enduring much worse blows than attacks on our small businesses by rioters and looters.
What will it take to improve our connections?
First, it will require acknowledging that we think negatively of each other, i.e., that our selfish human nature dictates our view of ourselves on a pedestal over others in various ways, and prioritizes self-benefit over benefiting others.
Therefore, according to human nature, which enjoys viewing others in a worse state than ourselves, we have no real desire for a solution to the social lacerations that become revealed.
Our egoistic nature is like a motor that never stops running within us, making us compare ourselves, our possessions and our success, to others.
It seeks how to justify us as being in a better place than others, and if it finds that others are at a higher level in one way or another, then it becomes restless, needing to do something to bridge that gap.
On one hand, the ego’s modus operandi leads us to self-improvement, for instance, by making us learn from others’ expertise and developing ourselves accordingly.
But on the other hand, the ego also often leads to destruction, when it becomes venomous jealousy that puts down others and tries to eliminate them in order to make ourselves feel at rest.
The ego’s latter destructive quality increasingly tears away at our social fabric, and will continue doing so until we rise above it in a common effort to positively connect to each other.
Therefore, there is a deeper purpose to the protests currently underway in the US, in the way nature gradually unravels itself to us: it flares up the negative attitudes that constantly dwell between us.
We will need to recognize just how negatively we relate to each other as a stepping stone toward positively connecting above our negative thoughts and attitudes.
The protests help guide us to realize our wicked nature.
When we become aware that we are egoists out to justify ourselves as better off than others, then we can start directing ourselves at self-transformation—to positively connect above our conflicting egos, and establish qualities of love, care, support and encouragement as more prevalent values than the negativity that instinctively surfaces to bring each other down.
While reaching a positive connection with ties of love and mutual consideration between us might seem like a utopian fantasy, it is indeed doable if we prioritize its importance throughout society, adjusting our educational and cultural influences to guide our improving social connection.
The riots in Minneapolis and other US cities in the past week show a clear example of how elusive love is in American society right now, and how divisive drives are overpowering the social atmosphere.
What does it mean to develop love among human society?
It means nurturing and articulating the nuances of our rich diversity in a common effort to strengthen that which holds us together as a society.
Instead of acting as if there are no (or should not be any) differences between us, we would be wiser to use our differences in order to invigorate that which connects us all.
The problem with acknowledging our differences is that we can fall into the trap of thinking of ourselves as better in one way or another to others, i.e., we can mistakenly be led by our divisive drives to feel a false sense of pride and self-esteem due to certain inborn features and characteristics.
Therefore, we need to be aware of our divisive drives, the ego concealed within each and every one of us, as an opposite form of love, which has the power to envelop all of our divisions.
It is written about this, “Love will cover all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:12). In other words, transgressions—our divisive urges—are needed in order for love to blossom, like the dirt that’s needed in order for a plant to grow. Likewise, the more hatred and division is felt underneath the love, the more fertile and voluminous the soil is for love to flourish upon it.
At the moment, however, we have no view of what is above the ground. We are still immersed in the darkness of our hatred and divisiveness, like a worm digging its way through a dark world inside a radish, unknowing that there is a completely different bright world full of light when it finds its way outside.
However, precisely due to our immersion in social division, and its destructive expression in the riots, America has what it takes to make a great overcoming, to rise above the divisions and build loving and caring relations among all American society.
The American Dream is infused with many examples of individuals beating the odds and achieving success in the conditions that the country provides. In the current crisis, the only difference in achieving the American Dream is that the success is not individual, but of society at large. As a result of overcoming hatred with love, the American society, with its major influence on the world, would pioneer a positive example that the world would be inspired to follow.
Yet, in order to cultivate love upon our differences, we first need to acknowledge our nature-given differences. That is, our skin color or other inborn characteristics are neither worthy of pride or shame, since they required no participation on our behalf.
We can be proud when we indeed participate in our development, building an atmosphere of love, mutual understanding, consideration, encouragement and support that fills society, upon the innate differences that we each have. Such a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere would then truly be our creation, worthy of pride.
While it seems impossible for a message of love to be heard among such divisive and destructive times, at one point or another, it will have to be heard, and even realized, in society.
If love fails to cover the hatred and division boiling throughout American society, then we can expect more riots, murders, destruction and suffering, until we will become completely helpless and desperate.
At that point, then maybe we will be ready to implement love above the divisions, but until then, the message of love above division will be like a message in a bottle floating around turbulent seas, waiting for someone to find it and put it to use.
What is spirituality? Spirituality is an opposite altruistic quality to our egoistic human nature.
The human ego—the desire to enjoy—is behind every thought and desire we have, and behind every action that we do.
Therefore, we perceive what we want to see according to the ego, i.e., whether we can enjoy something, or whether something comes to threaten our enjoyment.
This is why if we want to discover spirituality, i.e., to find out what surrounds us that is imperceptible to our egoistic perception, we thus need to recreate ourselves, and in the process of recreating ourselves, our environment holds primary importance.
In other words, since altruism is imperceptible and opposite to egoism, we thus need help from our surroundings to inspire, prod and motivate us to want to reach an opposite quality to our egoism.
When we make the shift from egoism to altruism, corporeality to spirituality, we will sense a new world that has always surrounded us, but which we could not perceive.
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, that new world is called “the spiritual world” or “the upper world.”
Our current worldviews are perceptions that have formulated upon our egos in order to comfort and shield ourselves in various ways.
“Truth” then becomes what coincides with our ego-based opinions.
We seek support for our opinions and repel what counters them. As such, we ultimately do not want to change ourselves.
How, then, do we reach a desire to change ourselves and discover spirituality?
If we fail to do so of our own accord, through positive means, i.e., by surrounding ourselves with an environment that supports the shift from egoism to altruism, then suffering will enter our lives more and more in order to show us that the purely egoistic direction we head in is problematic and that something needs to change.
However, suffering itself won’t lead us to change, but to a desire to change, where we will seek out different environments and influences than our current ones, in order to develop ourselves spiritually.