Sometimes a lot of wrongs can be stored in a single slogan. Look at the following example.
“He must be crazy or evil to set out to murder innocent people.”
Let’s look at assumptions that would disagree with this sentence.
There is no Perfect Morality
What could this mean, and may one convince fundamentalist of this?
– It means that there are mistakes in every set of moral laws.
Two arguments for fundamentalists (if one doesn’t convince the fundamentalist, at least some of the bystanders will appreciate your position):
– No one knows G-d’s will; at best we only may have a human interpretation of G-d’s will.
– Creation is not perfect, but the work of a perfect G-d. G-d wanted to give humans a chance to play a role in cooperation with their Creator to perfect and complete the World. So the Universe had to be presented unfinished and imperfect.
Now, if G-d’s work is not perfect yet (it is perfect for it’s purpose, that we can help perfecting it – a work in progress), could we claim that our understanding of what we should do with our lives could be perfect? Are we doing better than G-d?
One cannot prove the inferiority of any method of belief by pointing out imperfections as there are no perfect systems. Even science can go / has gone wrong (scientific racism, the unwise professor).
There is no Evil Morality
What could this mean?
– Every system of ethics values truth over falsehood, honesty over theft, love over indifference, generosity over selfishness, protecting the weak over abusing and exploiting them, etc.
The only apparent exceptions come about when two moral principle clash. What seems to be murder over recue, can actually be understood as cleansing evil over not cleaning up.
An example: Anti-Semites teach that Jews should be killed, not because killing is holy but because Jews are supposedly unholy. Embracing the idea not to murder might be helpful to stop this but must be accompanied by the notion that there are no wicked or inferior people who don’t deserve what everyone deserves.
There are no Evil People
Contrary to Classical Christianity and Islam, people are inclined both to evil and goodness, and may create a good life and moral record by choosing good. People who choose bad consistently ruin their life, name and the world around them but they must be inherently benign – or they should feel free to hurt others and stay fundamentally innocent.
There are no Crazy People
There are only impatient listeners. I learned this when I was a young adult. I got to know a person twice my age who seemed to completely have ‘lost it.’ He would talk a constant stream of nonsense and he never made any sense.
One day I decided to give him a chance. He always seemed so eager to have someone listen to him. I sat down with hem and said: What do you want to tell me? He started his usual steam of words and I just listened. I didn’t comment and I didn’t ask anything. After 75 minutes I got it.
He was very tense and wanted to tell me seven different stories at the same time. He had been trying to do so for decades with no success. So he said one sentence of story A, followed by one of story B, etc. He wasn’t confused – everyone else felt confused listening to him.
He was born under the most cruel circumstances, in a Japanese concentration camp in the Dutch Indies. He grew up as orphan. He never received any counseling. He visited a psychiatrist once a month who would give him ‘medication.’ No one ever listened to him, his whole life, but he had never given up hope to one day be able to find a listener. He did not complain, but he needed a listening ear. It was impossible not to like him and respect him once one listened to him enough.
It was there and then that I concluded: If he’s not crazy, no one is. Crazy is just a term used by people who do not have the empathy or do not spend the time to listen to someone until they would understand him. Don’t call people you don’t understand insane. Rather, say: I never took the interest or time to connect to him and get him.
There is no Desperation that Causes Evil, no Hope that Prevents it
Classical Marxism theorizes that when the situation of the powerless gets desperate enough, they will rise up. Hardened capitalists even believe this, as you may hear them proclaim that giving people hope (or a morsel) will keep them calm. Wicked acts would then be the outcome of despair. Well, they are not. There were perfectly successful people who went on a killing spree.
Acting wickedly is rather a failure to invest enough energy to choose goodness.
So please, never again say (or buy into) the idea that wickedness comes from faulty morality, evil morality, or bad or desperate people. Rather, it is the result of not using Free Will, not choosing life.
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. 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. *
As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. *
If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: https://youtu.be/QMPp6h6r72M *
To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 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, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. *
Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, 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 who don't deserve that. 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), 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. *
His most influential teachers (chronologically) 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. *
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. 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, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and 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. *
He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to 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. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. *
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, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. 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 being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. *
His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance 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: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AMoshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&s=relevancerank&text=Moshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1