Leadership With Heart
A Scary Dream
Last night, I woke up from a “dream,” and in the final episode, there was a large, ferocious tiger stalking me with a message. A voice in the dream told me that this tiger in the room had to do with the world in crisis today.
In the dream, as I tried to maneuver around the room to escape the tiger, he pursued me, first playfully and then more aggressively. Finally, running out of options for safety or survival, I saw a cupboard, and I hid in it, praying. But then I saw, from around the corner, the tiger’s snout and then his whole face leering at me, and I abruptly awoke.
Obviously, there are a lot of possible interpretations of this dream, but as I reflected on it, it seemed important to bring together many of the “tiger-like” global conflicts and plights that threaten us today.
Terrorism and War
On October 7, we had the largest terror attack since 9/11. The barbaric attack by hordes of Hamas terrorists across Israel’s southern border resulted in the rape, torture, beheadings, burnings, murders, and taking of hostages that, as a colleague mentioned, “we thought only happened in ancient times.” The subsequent war against Hamas in Gaza is just on the verge of a wider regional war that expands north with Hezbollah and to the far east, with a major confrontation with arch-terrorist sponsor Iran, which is reaching nuclear breakout and seems to be itching for a fight of epic and radical Islamic proportions with the US and Israel.
Of course, on top of this is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, first in 2014 and now raging for the last 2 years into a full-fledged proxy war occurring between NATO and Russia that has at many points seen threatened escalation to the use of nuclear weapons. Additionally, Russia’s isolation from the West has resulted in their closing ranks with China and the axis of evil countries Iran and North Korea. Further, China itself is threatening to invade Taiwan, and North Korea is saber-rattling with South Korea, both of which would test our security partnerships and could easily escalate into world war dimensions.
Health and Life Expectancy
It’s been four years since COVID brought to the fore our personal and societal vulnerability to illness. Remember also the debate over whether COVID was developed as a result of Chinese biological weapons development? Now instead of being worried about getting sick, there is a trifecta of annual illnesses that include the flu, COVID, and RSV, driving the rate of illness way up. On top of this, there is the next mystery illness from China, and it is a deadly antibiotic-resistant pneumonia. While COVID hit the elderly and those with prior conditions hard, this new China pneumonia is hitting infants at an alarming rate. Further, suicide rates, which have been trending upward, have hit the highest rate in 80 years. Taken together with other health issues, despite advances in medicine, life expectancy is actually declining and has erased all gains since 1996.
Finance and the Economy
The world has experienced numerous financial shocks in recent times that continue to reverberate, and these include the financial meltdown of 2008, which was the largest since the Great Depression. This saw the likes of financial stalwarts like Lehman Brothers and many other banks and institutions collapse under the weight of predatory lending, subprime mortgages, and greedy risk-taking. Again, in 2018, we endured another financial crisis, this time driven by a percolating trade war with China, looming inflation, rising interest rates, spiraling national debt, and declining consumer confidence. In fact, these same issues are continuing to apply a vise-like pressure on the economy today.
Environment and Sustainability
For decades, we have been warned about the effects of wide-scale global pollution, unsustainable use and abuse of planet Earth, and global warming driven by industrialization, the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and more. While many people seek to disprove a pending environmental crisis, statistics clearly show the rise in global temperatures, with 2023 being the warmest on record yet. The impact in terms of severe storms, increased drought, warming and rising oceans, threats to our food supply chain, health risks, and the extinction of species is beginning to come into greater focus.
Social Inequality and Divisiveness
There is growing polarization of the left and right, social inequality, racial, sexual, religious, and other discrimination, radical extremism, social unrest, chaos at our borders, and outbreaks of violence. Despite attempts to quiet the unrest, including recent attempts at expanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA), we’ve continued to see a rising tension across social media, confrontations in subways and streets, and “peaceful” protests turn from hotheaded to ugly, with statues, stores, and institutions vandalized, cities burning, anarchists threatening to upend the social order, and even people getting killed.
What Can Technology Do?
Helping us to fend off the boiling pressures in the world today have been two main things:
One is the rapid advance in technology, whether from computerization, communications, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more. Probably no one represents that promise of the future more than the world’s greatest genius of our times, Elon Musk, the driving force behind SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, Optimus Robotics, Neuralink, the Boring Company, X (formerly Twitter), and xAI. Musk is obsessed with creating a more sustainable planet here, but also with the need to ultimately save humanity (i.e., human consciousness) and get us to Mars and its colonization.
Of course, the flip side of technology, as we are frequently reminded nowadays, is that as much as it can save us, it can also potentially destroy us.
So Where Does This Leave Us With The Tiger?
Just like in the dream, it became clear to me that nothing we humans alone can do to stop a hungry, deadly tiger. We can hide inside the cupboard, but there it is, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce even as we desperately try to fight it off.
I think that in this dream, God was telling me that bad things are coming—perhaps they are the bad times before the ultimate good times of redemption. We cannot escape these events through physical means alone, no matter how smart we think we are.
Yes, we must do our part, but the most important thing we can do is to sincerely recognize and serve the Almighty One above and not the false idols of material possessions, power, or anything else in this world. G-d has a plan for the world, and He controls when and what will ultimately happen.
We are in the best of hands. G-d’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence assure us that his ever-loving, merciful, and saving hand is always there with us. In the end, we don’t need to be afraid of the tiger; we simply need to do what is right and be faithful to G-d.