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

Honesty

Dishonesty tends to spread throughout the brain, is seldom just localized.

Integrity is not some abstract concept. It, first of all, means to try not to say anything besides the truth as you know it. The reason for that is not an addiction to factuality but rather a commitment to goodness. That means that you won’t say ‘the truth’ if that would bring needless suffering (evil). And when you can’t say the truth, for instance, when someone confided in you, you try to change the subject or run away rather than lie. Or you say: “S/he didn’t appoint me her/his spokesperson; ask him/her.”

Being trustworthy is not just a principle. The only way to do it is to totally be in love with reality. That means that habitual liars abhor you. Don’t worry, you abhor them too. Those are not people fond of lying. Rather, being upfront doesn’t have such a priority with them. This can be a cultural thing. In some cultures, and for some people, honesty is of lower importance than preserving honor, being pleasant, being proud.

Habitual liars are only amateurs. Con artists are harder to detect. And they do seek out people with integrity, for several reasons. Firstly, honest people are often naïve, easy to take from. But also, people who prioritize truth fascinate them. Yet, the latter better run from the cold, calculating thieves. The only good thing about thoroughly fake people is that they can cure your naivety. However, such lessons often come at very high prices.

We are all conceived as humans unacquainted with untruth. And, we pay dearly for even the smallest ‘white’ lie we ever hear or especially utter. Employing dishonesty removes us from reality and closeness with others (and G^d) until we come clean. It puts the brakes on us trusting anybody in anything. It makes us displeased with ourselves (if only we could admit that), deeply lonely, and unnecessarily defensive. Confusing yes and no plants mystery in our heads that prevents us from clarity about everything.

Lying also seriously impedes our memory. We need to remember parallel stories covering several universes. In practice, that results not in a better-trained memory but rather in not being sure what happened. Often, lies are used to cover up other lies or unclarities. If you want an excellent memory, you need to call a spade a spade and name everything correctly.

If you’re always scrupulously honest, you can coach your children and students (and spouse) to maintain or regain their integrity. Many other honest people will flock to you too. This way, you’re constantly surrounded by integrity and warmth. Make sure you couple integrity with mildness. Being stern and unforgiving, together with being factual, is a bad mix.

You can only accept coarse generalizations about groups of people if you tolerate dishonesty because they are obviously false. So, an honest person cannot be blatantly racist, sexist, etc. You won’t gossip either, because you won’t deny it’s underpinned and energized by boredom, envy, and hate.

You can regain the idea that lies are off-limits, the preciousness of ending truth. Just refrain from speaking falsehood, learn to shut up, and retract untruths. Then, you can also teach naïve people who to spot big liars.

Don’t steal. This, not because you are afraid of the consequences. Be honest because that is what you are. You’re not a cactus and not a thief. You don’t want to be caught as dishonest in your own eyes. And, integrity also implies not being an opportunist. The end does not always justify the means. Better honestly lose an argument than sneakily winning one.

Don’t flatter. Don’t even want what doesn’t belong to you. If it’s legally out of reach, it’s not for you for now. Maybe you can work harder to obtain it. Or, if its absence is unjust, band together with others to fight for justice.

We see how very honest the Sages of the Talmud were. So, any trace of dishonesty among Jews comes from living in the Diaspora, comes from assimilation, and being told over and over again that Jews can’t be trusted.

Try not to be angry at dishonest people. Just be lightly amused with their failure. As if seeing someone trying to ride a bicycle for the first time. They’re not willingly choosing to be evil. They have different priorities, either from hardship or from not having been raised by upright people only. You can feel for them a bit. It’s hard to learn honesty later in life. You can still have some fun with them; and trust them—that they’ll cheat.

Dishonesty is the deepest evil around now. It’s worth it to not go there.

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. 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 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 1400 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/ 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. * 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 (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), 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.
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