An article written for the World Spirit Forum in Arosa, Switzerland, January 2006.
* The Crisis
* Altruism is Life’s Principle
* Emergence of a Conflict
* Lasting Pleasure Can Only Be in Altruistic Desires
* A Long Path and a Short Path to Correction of the Crisis
* Altruists and Egoists in Society
* Plan for Resolving the Crisis
* Creating a New Civilization
* The Rescue Team of Humanity
Appendix: Short & Medium Term Tactical Plan:
* Plan Objectives
* Collaborative Work
* Information Center
* Information and Explanatory Departments (in order of priorities)
(ii) Mass Media
* Printed publications
* Collaboration with Similar Organizations
* Approaching global institutions
* Facilitating an International Research Institute for Altruism
* Proposal to pressure corporations to become benevolent
* Practical Examples for Implementation of Above Concepts
The global crisis of humanity is obvious. Depression, drugs, disintegration of the family unit, terrorism, unsustainable social systems, the threat of the use of nuclear weaponry, and ecological catastrophes are all its signs. Professor Ervin Laszlo’s new book, The Chaos Point, presents a very clear and informative depiction of the comprehensive global crisis.
The growing risk of the use of nuclear weapons makes the threat to the existence of humanity all the more imminent. Many scientists believe that humanity does not have much time to prevent the crisis from escalating into a thermonuclear world war or a global ecological catastrophe.
Even though the signs of a crisis are evident, as a rule, its existence and aggravation are concealed by governments, social organizations, scientists, sociologists, and psychologists. The reason for the deliberate concealment of the crisis lies in the fact that those who conceal it see no means to correct the present state of affairs. Thus, the ostrich-policy merely aggravates the problem and accelerates the approaching catastrophe.
A Physicians’ proverb says that an accurate diagnosis is half the cure. The concealment of our malady and underrating its gravity constitute a direct threat to life.
Although the main problem of civilization is overcoming the global crisis, to solve it, it is required to first resolve the grave problem of explaining the state of crisis to the public. If the public understands the reason for the crisis and accepts it, this, in itself, will facilitate the resolution of the crisis. Today, many people are still looking for a solution in scientific, technological, cultural, and social progress, forgetting that relying on those for progress is what brought us to our present unfortunate state.
To prevent further escalation of the crisis it is required to:
1. acknowledge the existence of the crisis;
2. reveal its causes;
3. realize the existence of an alternative and the possibilities of resolving the crisis;
4. design a plan to resolve the crisis;
5. execute the plan.
Regrettably, not only humankind and human society are in a critical state. The whole of nature is approaching a catastrophe along with us. Hence, to understand the origin of the crisis, we must analyze the rudiments of nature itself.
Altruism is Life’s Principle
Altruism is defined as care for the well being of one’s fellow person. Research of altruism reveals that it not only exists in nature, it is the very basis for the existence of every living thing.
A living object is one that receives from its environment and gives to it. Every living organism comprises a combination of cells and organs that work together and complement each other in perfect harmony. In this process, they are obliged to concede, influence, and help one another. The law of cell and organ integration according to the altruistic principle of “one for all” operates in every living organism.
Conversely, the essence of all matter constitutes different measures of a desire to be filled with power, vitality, and delight. The intensity of this desire creates nature’s various levels: inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human. The intensity of the desire also determines every process within these levels, and constitutes and forms every phenomenon in the world before us. Each higher level is a manifestation of a greater desire, and contains all the previous levels.
Through attaining nature’s unity under the principle of “one for all,” we begin to perceive the uniqueness of the human phenomenon and its place in the world. The peculiarity of humans, compared to the rest of nature, lies not only in the power and nature of human desires, but in the fact that human desires are continuously changing and evolving. Thus, human desires are the motivating force that propels and develops civilization.
With the exception of humans, all of nature consumes only what it needs for sustenance. Humans crave more food, more sex, and more physical comfort than they need for their sustenance. This state is especially true in desires that are uniquely human, in the (endless) pursuit of wealth, power, honor, fame, and knowledge.
Desires for things that are necessary for existence are not considered egoistic, but natural, since they come as nature’s commands. These desires are present in the inanimate, vegetative, and animate, as well as in humans. Only those human desires that exceed what is necessary for existence are egoistic.
In addition to the fact that the human desires grow exponentially, they incorporate pleasure from degrading others, or seeing others suffer. These desires are not given to us by nature, but are instilled in us through education and social environment.
Our continuing evolvement in those desires indicates that we have not completed our evolution. Only these desires can be considered altruistic or egoistic, according to the purpose with which we use them. At present, their development yields progress along with a comprehensive crisis.
As mentioned above, all of nature’s forces besides the human ego are in balance, forming a single system, and only man disturbs their harmony. Everything in nature is connected and aspires for equilibrium within itself and with its surrounding environment. Violation of the balance leads to disintegration of the organism, illness, and the ultimate death of the organism. The possibility of maintaining and restoring equilibrium is a necessary condition for the existence of life.
Emergence of a Conflict
Of all nature, only human beings relate to others with malicious intentions. No other creature harms, degrades, exploits another creature, derives pleasure from oppression of others, or enjoys their affliction. The egoistic use of human desires, with the intention to self-elevate at the expense of others, leads to a precarious imbalance with the surrounding world. Human egoism is the only destructive force that exists; hence, the world will not be able to persist unless we change our egoistic approach to society.
Egoism of a part leads to the death of the whole. If a cell in a living organism begins to relate egoistically to other cells it becomes cancerous. Such a cell begins to consume surrounding cells, oblivious to them or to the needs of the whole organism, and thus, eventually extinguishes the entire body, including itself. The same applies to human egoism with respect to nature: while developing for itself, detached from the rest of nature and not as an integral part of nature, the egoism leads everything to death, including itself.
Cells can exist, develop, and multiply only by interacting as a single whole. The law of altruistic interaction functions in every being except in humans. Human beings are given the freedom of will to fully perceive the need for altruism and to voluntarily keep this comprehensive law of nature.
The globalization and evolvement of human society compelled us to see the world as a single whole comprised of opposites. Researching the surrounding world reveals the interconnectedness among all its parts, their cause-and-effect development, and the purpose of their actions. The world’s perfection lies in the unity of its elements; it is accomplished only through co-existence of all parts of nature, and while each part works to sustain the entire system.
As previously mentioned, save for humans, all of nature strictly fulfills its predestination. Hence, it is evident that humankind’s problem is to balance each person’s excessive desires with nature, to become an integral part of it and act as a single organism. Put differently, humankind’s task is to become altruistic.
Lasting Pleasure Can Only Be in Altruistic Desires
Pleasure is felt only at the contact point between a desire and its fulfillment. The minute a pleasure fulfills a desire, the desire disappears, because the desire received what it wanted. Subsequently, the pleasure vanishes along with the desire.
Thus, the greater the desire, the emptier one becomes when attempting to fulfill it. This emptiness and inability to fulfill our desires compels us to constantly look for new fulfillments, and to spend our whole lives in this state until we exhaust ourselves to death.
The solution to this “catch” lies is in altruistic fulfillment. In altruistic fulfillment, the place that is filled is different from the place of the desire, because in altruism I derive pleasure from pleasing others. Because the pleasure is in another, it does not neutralize my desire; hence, the more I fulfill others the more I can enjoy. This modus operandi is the principle to receiving the eternal pleasure we all so want.
A Long Path and a Short Path to Correction of the Crisis
One can advance toward the realization that egoism is the root of evil through a path of suffering or through a much shorter path of correction. Moreover, the path of suffering is not a path, merely the length of time needed for the realization of all the horrifying consequences of stubbornness and egoism.
Yet, as soon as a sufficient measure of suffering has been accumulated, a person realizes that there is greater profit in correction than in suffering, and exerts to change. Thus, instead of treading the long path, there is a short and easy path to correction. We can acquire knowledge about the structure of the world, its causality and purpose, before we are met with affliction. Through this knowledge, we accelerate the realization that egoism is bad, thus avoiding the need to realize the evil in egoism under the pressure of affliction.
Although it seems that we are free to do as we please, in truth, we follow the commandments of our genes and adhere to the influence of the social environment. Those influences and commandments determine all our values, showing us how profitable it is to be powerful and prosperous. We work hard all of our short lives only to win society’s recognition of how successfully we keep its values. At the end of the day, we do not live for ourselves at all, but strain to find grace in the eyes of our children, our kin, our acquaintances, and society in general.
Therefore, to correct, we must change the social values, the standards they set, and their definitions of success. Hence, clearly, succeeding in solving the crisis depends upon changing the values of society. Thus, if we want to avoid suffering and destruction and to arrive at a new civilization easily and quickly, we have to disseminate the knowledge about the crisis, its cause, and its correction.
Altruists and Egoists in Society
According to scientists, altruists make up approximately 10% of humanity. The percentage of altruists in society is constant. This percentage is genetically conditioned, and exists irrespective of such external conditions as the influence of family, education, and society. Altruists do not disappear; the altruistic gene is concealed within a person, and cannot be destroyed.
Although 90% of the people in any society are egoists, culture, science, art, religion, ethics, law, and education are based entirely on the concepts of the altruistic 10% in society. This is so because altruistic behavior is profitable for all. Altruism rules in education: Schools teach us to be altruists; we are told to be honest, hard-working, respectful of others, to share with others what we have, to be friendly, and to love our neighbors. All this happens because altruism is beneficial to society.
The functionality laws of living organisms teach us that the existence of an organism depends on the cooperative work of all its parts. Born altruists naturally engage in altruistic actions, but to egoists, such actions seem utterly impossible. Despite their naturally egoistic nature, awareness of the law of living organisms leads to altruistic co-existence of cells in every organism.
Similarly, the perception of the benefits of altruistic behavior is present in an egoistic human society. No one in the world actively opposes altruistic acts. On the contrary, all organizations and personalities advertise their involvement in altruistic actions and pride themselves in them. No one openly objects to the dissemination of altruistic ideals in the world. Thus, evidently, success in bringing humanity easily and quickly to the new civilization depends solely on the unification of the altruistic organizations and the dissemination of the message.
Plan for Resolving the Crisis
The goal of the altruistic forces is to form altruistic values in society. The means to change our behavior from egoistic to altruistic is to change our priorities and value hierarchy. We need to be convinced that bestowal to society is much more important and worthwhile than receiving from it. In other words, each person must come to feel a much greater fulfillment from giving to society than from any egoistic acquisition.
Public opinion is the only means to facilitate this goal because the most important thing for every person is the appreciation of society. Humans are built in such a way that receiving the sympathy of society is the purpose of life.
This element is so intrinsic that everyone denies that the purpose of every action is to acquire society’s appreciation. The question of our motivation for action catches us off guard. We might claim that we are motivated by curiosity or even money, but we would not admit to the real incentive—the recognition of society!
As mentioned above, humans are built in such a way that the human environment determines all our predilections and values. We are entirely and involuntarily controlled by public opinion. This is why society can infuse its members with any mode of behavior and any value, even the most abstract.
A good example for the domination of society is the system of modern-day consumption of commodities. Thus, society systematically engages in creating artificial values and fashions, thus impelling further consumption.
To enable the formation of altruistic values in human society, its altruistic part should unite and influence mass media, educational institutions, and various state and social organizations.
The public should receive knowledge about the following:
* the world’s nature and its wholeness (integrity), purpose, and program;
* the nature of the crisis;
* the cause of the crisis—humankind’s egoistic nature;
* and the possibility of overcoming the crisis only by means of changing human nature.
The danger of a critical situation requires that humanity—out of fear of self-destruction—extol the ultimate value of altruism using mass media and all possible means (see appendix for further details). A continuous, purposeful formation of public opinion will provide every person with an environment that will compel him to bestow upon society
The modification of society’s tasks will require changing the educational systems and plans, starting from a very early age. Additionally, it will require cardinal transformations in all areas of education and culture. All media will have to praise and evaluate events according to their benefit to society so as to create an environment of education for bestowal upon society. Using every means of mass media, advertisement, persuasion, and education, the new public opinion should openly and resolutely denounce egoistic actions, and extol altruistic actions as the ultimate value.
Through society’s purposeful influence everyone will aspire to receive only what is necessary for sustenance from society and spare no effort exerting to benefit society in order to receive society’s appreciation.
At first, everyone will work to benefit society under environmental compulsion and influence. But support and recognition of actions by society will provide such complete satisfaction, that people will begin to evaluate the act of bestowal upon society as the ultimate, unique value, even without reward from the environment for each act of giving. This process will raise the level of human consciousness to the level of the new civilization.
Since the activity of the world’s altruistic forces will lead the world toward equilibrium with nature, humanity will receive nature’s support in the form of comprehensive reduction in symptoms of the crisis. The increasing similarity to nature will yield a positive transformation in ecology and society.
Creating a New Civilization
Humanity’s transition from egoistic to altruistic civilization unfolds in two stages:
* unification of all altruistic elements on the planet;
* inclusion of the entire humanity in its ranks.
The Rescue Team of Humanity
A Center for the Unification of the World’s Altruistic Elements (organizations and individuals) should be established.
Altruists make up 10% of society. 10% of those altruists are highly motivated and are prepared for immediate altruistic actions, while 90% of the altruists are not as highly motivated. Therefore, the latter part is not ready to act independently, but will passively assist in the mission.
We belong to the active 10% of the altruists, which are 1% of humanity. It is therefore our duty to design a plan of action and commence its active implementation. This commitment necessitates that we avoid idle discussions, embrace the plan, and begin to realize it.
This small group of 1% of humanity is exactly the group that can develop and circulate the method of correction. History shows that progressive ideas always originate in small groups. Naturally, our center should consist of this 1%.
The egoistic 90% of humanity will never be able to unite, precisely because of their egoistic nature. Hence, even though we are only (1%), when united, we become a mighty force.
Additionally, we need to create a coordinating center to unite all the altruistic forces in the world under an Altruistic World Parliament, whose basis is the members of the WWC. This center will produce informational material aimed at uniting the 10% of the world’s altruistic elements.
Circulating the idea of a “new civilization” should begin among the active 10% of the altruists (1% of humanity). Since altruists care about the well being of humanity, they are prepared for it by nature. To that end we should partake in all altruistic societies the world over, and eventually unite with them on the basis of the New Civilization concept.
Appendix: Short & Medium Term Tactical Plan
The purpose of the plan is to realize the decisions made at the WWC conference in Tokyo and that are embodied in the Tokyo Declaration. The “New Civilization Plan” was composed with the spirit of the Tokyo conference in mind, and this tactical plan follows in the same spirit.
This plan brings the ideological goals from design to action, and proposes practical ways to implement and assimilate altruistic thought patterns in the general public the world over. It is our hope that following these measures, we will commence on a process that will gradually yield the desired transformation, reverse the escalating crisis, and facilitate the establishment of the new civilization.
To generate a constructive change in the world, we are required to design an agenda among the members of the WWC where the core members collaborate in exchange of ideas and production of explanatory materials that will convey our message.
The explanatory materials must be aimed at varying target audiences such as youth, government and public organizations, educated lay persons, Europeans, North Americans, various Asian countries etc. Although the material will convey the same basic messages, each target audience will receive it via an appropriate channel and in a “wrapping” that matches its language, mentality, and thought patterns.
The WWC should establish an information center that will develop contents for the various audiences. The information center will serve as the “ideological conduit” of the organization, channeling content to the various information departments where they will be “coated” in various formats, a selection of which we will present shortly.
Concentrated development of content will enable us to save in development costs. The same content can be packaged into different products according to needs. For example, material that is packaged as a film will be subsequently packaged in audio format, in text, and will be displayed on the Internet. Eventually, it will be compiled and produced in a book. In this manner, the material production process becomes more cost effective and efficient.
Information and Explanatory Departments (in order of priorities)
To date, the Internet is the multinational melting pot. Through the net, we can reach a large, diverse, intelligent audience, which is by and large young (age 40 and below). Internet users tend to be socially aware, socially involved, and of greater social influence than non-Internet users.
The net offers obvious benefits for us:
* Immediate Availability of information; relative ease in widespread dissemination of information, and in various languages; accessibility to multinational audiences, since the world is for the most part connected to broadband Internet, with the exception of Eastern Europe and under-developed areas in Asia and Africa; low costs.
For the above reasons, the Internet department should spearhead the dissemination of our message. The idea is to create content-sites in multiple languages that will be frequently updated. Strong emphasis should be placed on presenting the sites in an up-to-date format.
* Alongside the content sites, we should develop forums and virtual conferences, and make extensive efforts to disseminate them in search-engines, forums, chats, and appropriate blogs.
* Another project entails setting up our own Internet television channel—The Wisdom Channel. Unlike traditional television channels, where production costs and airtime are exorbitant, an Internet broadcast channel is economical and easy to facilitate. In such a channel, most of the costs—which are now affordable—will go toward the actual production of the content.
2. Mass Media
* Production of a What the Bleep style docudrama (with the appropriate content).
* Production of educational programs and documentaries for channels such as Discovery, National Geographic, Arte; a series of programs on various topics featuring members of the WWC. Each chapter can focus on a different aspect of our messages, presented by one or more of the members.
* Initiating and documenting meetings between members of the Wisdom Council and various prominent thinkers and scientists.
* Producing pop-science films and clips with publicly known individuals that convey our messages in contemporary and appealing manners.
* Airing a Wisdom or Altruism satellite channel with programs produced by WWC members or that support WWC goals.
3. Printed publications
* Releasing books containing selected essays of the council members. This initiative should be executed shortly. It is enough to release two to three titles that target slightly different audiences. It is also important to translate them into the most commonly spoken languages.
* We should attempt to publish essays and articles in leading magazines. It is required that we synchronize our actions because having a number of writers enables diversity in the kind of journals we can approach. Additionally, we can approach magazines with articles written by multiple writers. We should translate the articles into the leading languages and circulate them among the leading magazines. Lastly, we should submit articles to leading papers in the world press.
* Preparation of booklets in various languages, containing the essential concepts of the council members and circulating them throughout the world.
* A long-term effort to relay to leading magazines (e.g. Time, Newsweek) the idea of an in-depth story. This last initiative may take longer to realize.
Record one or more hit songs that will convey the message. (Is it possible to pitch this idea to Peter Gabriel and ask him to write a hit song about the importance of giving to society and denouncing egoism, or about the world crisis and the ways to resolve it?) Such a project could move many hearts and produce high awareness in a short time, especially among the young. A good example is Peter Gabriel’s 1980 song that turned Stephen Bantu Biko, a noted nonviolent anti-apartheid activist in South Africa who died in the hands of the South African police, into a world-renowned person. Each of these “hits” will be accompanied by a clip through which we could convey our message.
If the songs project succeeds, and only if they want to partake in it, we could appeal to people such as Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof and others of similar profile to hold a large scale musical event, much like Live Aid and other events that they have produced in the last 20 years. The goal of such an event will be to draw attention to our message and to make it a significant topic in the public agenda. The resonance of such events, especially if held simultaneously in different places in the world, is prodigious.
Declare a global campaign to make altruism “in,” and egoism “out.” We should relay our message to celebrities of various fields—movie and TV stars, artists, sports stars, and other known figures that influence global public opinion. Also, create repetitive slogans and mottos that will gradually “inundate” global public opinion with the messages we want to circulate. This campaign should be similar to campaigns for restraining AIDS, road accidents and other such initiatives.
6. Collaboration with Similar Organizations
Approach many altruistic organizations that are concerned about the global crisis and create alliances with them on the basis of a predefined platform, or a broad enough common ground (see “The New Civilization Plan”). We should explain our program and offer them cooperation on that basis. In this manner, we can build a widespread support to proper messages and enhance our target audience.
Once such a broad base has been reached, we should establish a prototype of a “world future government” that will function as an ideological, a-political body that promotes altruism in society as its fundamental principle.
7. Approaching global institutions
Approach the UN, governments, and institutions, to request holding serious discussions on the topic of altruism, in which the members of the council will speak as experts on the topic of the global crisis, and suggest solutions. Despite the unwillingness of these bodies to acknowledge the crisis—as it might point to them for responsibility—the very discussion in these institutions will prompt publications of the protocols that can create resonance the world over. This direction might also be a feasible future option for fundraising.
8. Facilitating an International Research Institute for Altruism
The International Research Institute for Altruism and Peace will be a private nonprofit multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to finding scientific solutions to current world instability, and advance world peace through the development of altruism.
The objective of IRIA will be to advance research and form collaborations between international scientists who are committed to research into the development of a benevolent international society.
IRIA will provide various services to help and unite the scientific community involved in research of altruism. These services will be pro-bono and will include helping to form university collaborations, fundraising, grant writing, and conference organization.
The institute will be self-funded through inclusion of commission on all grants raised. This institute can be the starting point of influence and access into all political, government, and internationally influential organizations.
9. Proposal to pressure corporations to become benevolent
Establish a publicly available rating system to measure corporations’ annual philanthropy, similar to a Moody’s or Dun & Bradstreet financial rating.
(i) Clearly identifying which corporations are currently the most benevolent.
(ii) Pressure other corporations to increase their level of benevolence or be “shamed” by public opinion on the release of the corporate list.
10. Practical Examples for Implementation of Above Concepts
* WWC members will be divided into workgroups. Each group will be in charge of a specific field, i.e. Science & Ecology, Economy, Social Behavior, History & Philosophy etc.
* Each group will collect data concerning behavioral altruism in its field, analyze it and devise a work-plan for disseminating the information as part of the concept that every part of the universe behaves altruistically except man.
* All the groups will be subordinate to a managing board headed by Prof. Laszlo. The board will examine the plans suggested by the workgroups and will decide which of the plans to execute and how.
* Within each group, every person will be assigned responsibility for dissemination through a specific form of media. For example, in the Science & Ecology workgroup, one person will be in charge of making contact with TV channels and promoting films that show how animals behave altruistically, how body cells yield their “personal” benefit before the benefit of the entire organism, and how the result is a healthier organism in which even those cells that yielded themselves are “happier.”
Another person will be in charge on publication of scientific and academic researches in journals such as Science & Nature, and respectable papers such as The New York Times.
Another person should solicit online publications to post pertinent researches and upload the appropriate content on the WWC website. The content should demonstrate how not only is our planet’s state worsening, but that it is because we humans are behaving contrary to nature, this being the cause of our misfortune.
* Along with the workgroups, we will set up a communication network to keep in constant touch, reporting our progress to the board, and—most importantly—assisting, supporting, and encouraging each other in the process.
* Once the plan is in gear, the semi-annual meetings will be an opportunity for us to refine our strategy, polish our message, and enhance the bond among all of us.
To succeed with all the above-mentioned plans, or in any others that will be devised at the WWC meeting, we must agree to begin immediately. We should commence the establishment of a logistic center with the infrastructure for all the departments.
The Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute is gladly willing to contribute the infrastructure at its disposal—technical and logistic—to the WWC. To date, there are dozens of centers and independent branches worldwide in which tens of thousands of people participate. There is also a well developed Internet infrastructure and vast technical experience and capability, which stand ready to promote our common goal of facilitating a new, aware, altruistic civilization.