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

Is the pursuit of happiness opium to the people?

Seeking personal peace vs. restoring worldwide justice

Asking the question is almost answering it. Seeking comfort, pleasure, entertainment, quietness from the outside or inside, being happy and content—this seems to clash with making the world a better place for all.

Choosing personal happiness seems egotistical compared to activism to give everyone a fair shot at life. Two things plead against that duality.

A. One is that we must found our activism on first taking well care of ourselves, or we’ll burn out.

Yet, a danger is then that we won’t stop pampering ourselves and never take the next step to look out for others, becoming selfish brats.

B. Another plea for going for our happiness is that this is not unfair. It is actually a fundamental equality already between all people.

Regardless of our circumstances, we can choose to be content right now.

Pull up the corners of our mouths, smile, mean it, and feel fortunate.

In fact, it often seems that the poorer people are, the better they are at this. Not being happy seems a luxury problem making billionaires suicidal rather than the hungry.

On the one hand, having a good mood is often the last thing a powerless person has, and why give that up? Yet, when life challenges us, we should speak up, complain, know we deserve better, and find empathy.

C. Maybe a solution is not to first make ourselves happy before we reach out to others, and not live the opposite sequence: first others, then me.

Rather, maybe we should do both, alternatingly.

Meanwhile, we should stay aware of our own inclination. When our egos are still large, ensure we do enough for others without expecting a good return. But, if our ego is still tiny, make sure we get spoiled rotten.

This gives such a clear program to life for each of us. To be resilient, happy activists, and to live a good life while the world and people are still a mess.

That’s probably what G^d intended when He advised us to have a Day of Rest once a week. A whole day to see how much abundance there is, to have a good life. Not just to charge your batteries to work so hard, and not to work so hard just to have a break. But, to have the best of both.

D. After all, it’s great to be an activist. And it’s just to have a good life.

I guess that’s what the Author of the Bible had in Mind when advising us to love our fellows as ourselves. There is no contradiction between the two.

It is not true (what many have claimed) that we can only love others in as far as we can love ourselves. Many excellent parents or lovers have been very generous while still having a hard time asking and receiving.

Yet, when Oxygen levels drop, we better put on the masks for ourselves before putting them on our small children because when we pass out, everyone is in trouble. The whole household will flourish when women in traditional marriages get enough support.

But, ultimately, we are being unfair when we are generous to everyone but one. What, is she unworthy? Be fair, even to yourself. If martyrdom was ever needed, some did an excellent job of that already. Our job is to live for our ideals, not die for them, for as far as we can help it.

And lately, we’re all in the same boat. When only the selfish and the strong live; when the weakest and the most generous won’t survive; we’ll all die.

Ultimately, the opposition between us and them needs to end. Meanwhile, we must take care of both categories.

About the Author
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. * 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. * 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.
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