Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Could we just forgive anyone?

Thought experiments about tough subjects in democracies, free societies

There are three separate aspects: personal forgiveness, the State’s forgiveness, and letting offenders go. Here they come in reverse order.

  1. Letting Offenders Go Free

Dangerous criminals should be locked up until the danger is gone. If they are not curable, they can’t walk around freely. Three groups come to mind.

Those who seem to have no moral conscience. I don’t mean people who did horrific things and, after the facts, stubbornly say they were right doing so to ‘protect’ their good name and honor. I mean people who cannot tell right from wrong. First, some young children at times find it complicated to prioritize good over pleasant or unpleasant over evil. But we keep children away from firearms and alcohol and the steering wheel, and that should help. Then, there are those seemingly incapable of remorse, and who don’t see the point of trying to be good. Are psychopaths always a danger, or is it only a subgroup that makes the front page?

Most people who did wicked things did not do so because they don’t care. Most do it for a (limited) good reason. They don’t steal to make people poor; they just want the money. They don’t make others suffer because they are sadistic; they just want to feel powerful. They don’t rape because they hate; they couldn’t care less; no, they just want to feel gratification.

[This paragraph is not yet for people currently healing from sexual crimes and murder (attempts) on themselves or loved ones.] And then, there are people who did evil and therapists can’t help them. I think of violent pedo-sexuals. But most pedophiles do no harm. They control themselves. A very hard life, and we should openly honor them so they don’t need to hide! But those who cannot motivate themselves to respect children at every level should not roam the streets.

[This paragraph is not yet for people currently healing from assault in the family on themselves or loved ones. These home-bound terrorists do unspeakable harm.] Lastly, there seems no therapy yet for con artists and violent spouses. When any word can mean anything, how can therapy work? When their vicious early-childhood abuse makes the grownup perpetrator not open up, all they do can only be a show. They cannot be allowed to freely satisfy their fascination with vulnerable people and their drive to dominate, oppress, rob, and destroy people’s lives.

Preferably, all such dangerous people should be removed from society before they harm anyone. Therapists and ‘specialists’ who could advise they’re not a danger (anymore) should not be of the naïve type that loves everyone and cannot see evil in anyone, as so many people with empathy.

Yes, it’s no small measure to lock up people who’ve done nothing wrong yet. But why should anyone first pay with their life before something is done? As in medicine, prevention should trump cure.

  1. The State’s Forgiveness

Jail time should not be punishment or revenge. It should not even mean that the perpetrator could have done better. If he could have, why didn’t he? It should be society’s message that someone should not have done what they did.

Since capital punishment does not deter, caters to anger and revenge, and inserts even more death and lack of respect for human life into the picture, among other good reasons to oppose it, that’s not an option.

But when is prison enough? Should perpetrators of the worst crimes (mass murder, mass sexual assault) never go free? And should lesser offenses be forgotten after a person did time, ‘paid their debt to society’?

I think not. I think it should depend on how much the person can contribute to prevention and healing from crimes like he committed.

Did you kill someone by driving under the influence of alcohol? You need to go viral about not throwing your own innocence away, friends stopping drunk people from driving, and why drink alcohol at all?

You callously threatened your spouse? You need to start educating the world about people who cannot be trusted as a marriage partner. Charm is not a proper substitute for warmth. Callousness cannot masquerade for confidence. (Can such people ever be trusted? Some obviously not.)

The State must persist in signaling that certain acts are beyond the pale. When a villain takes up this message forcefully and benefits society bigly, even from jail, there comes a time to think about releasing him. Not to forget what he did but to give him more power to profit society this way.

  1. Personal Forgiveness

Victims, and even more so bystanders, need time to heal. A late, but not early, part of healing is forgiving the perpetrators. This will, first of all, benefit the person who was hurt. But this is harder to do when the perpetrator has not been dealt with or worse, is still a threat.

We (subconsciously) generate anger and a drive for revenge only to make it safe to share our pain and cry. When we cried for thousands of hours, trembled our fear away, laughed off our embarrassment, and told the story, time and again, that’s not enough if we’re still resentful and angry. These sentiments hurt just us. Blame G^d, if you must: ‘In the Afterlife, You’re not going to get away with this!’ But living well is the best revenge. We cannot ever forget. But when most pain has healed, to forgive is easy.

The mere fact that some advocate to immediately turn the other cheek (the most prevalent religion in the US that still glee in executing people) does not mean it’s rational, desirable, or advantageous to hate and kill.

Forgiveness is only for late-stage recovery if it doesn’t come naturally. But some mourners immediately understand anger is not the way. Look at funerals for victims of terrorism in Israel. Mourners often cry and feel a deep need to express gratitude for having been with the victim for so much time. They call for random acts of goodness to neutralize evil. But it’s fine if that’s not your initial response. Do what you need to do. But don’t withhold from yourself to complete the mourning. Forgive and live well.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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