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

Missing empathy when foreign leaders hurt ‘their own,’ or others hurt themselves

“Everybody only thinks about themselves. I’m the only one who sometimes thinks about me.” – Wim Kan

The blanket revulsion in the Free West against Dictator Putin’s attempt to occupy democratic Ukraine reveals something most important. We don’t care much when leaders oppress ‘their own’ People. And, we also don’t care much when people hurt themselves. That’s their personal freedom.

Notations with that: Leaders hurting ‘their own’ is way too cozy. There is as much equivalence between dictators and the populace as between slave owners and slaves. And we do have some measure of empathy with those who committed suicide, but that’s nil compared to the murder of another.

The first problem shows: We don’t care too much about groups of people ‘not our own.’ It took looming global calamities to make us wake up that all people are ‘our own.’ In a nuclear war and uncontested climate change, we all die. We’re all in the same boat, ever since Noach and his family.

The second problem shows: We need to stop having so much respect for ‘personal freedom.’ Autonomy is most important to most of us, but it simply backfires when it comes to hurt us or others. Democracies care about freedom for all but should even more care about no harm to any.

I recently wrote about the last point, so let’s continue with the former.

In the free West, we don’t care too much that 1.3 billion Chinese have no personal freedoms, no democracy. We even hold Olympic Games there, while its regime is committing genocide on 1-3 million Uyghurs. That is worse than 1936 in Hitler’s Germany! Then, the Holocaust had not yet started. Now, we should know better. It hit us only when China kept a new coronavirus secret until it was already unstoppable to become a pandemic.

In the free West, we don’t care too much that 145 million Russians have very little personal freedom, no real democracy. International sporting events are held there, even while Gays are oppressed there, and husbands are free to beat up ‘their’ wives. Then came its assault on Ukraine.

This lack of empathy with ‘them’ has to stop. And not only because, in the end, this will come to haunt us. Our coldness of heart diminishes us.

Lack of democracy is important not only because these two mammoth States are imperialistic, looking for ways to enlarge their territories and oppress other Peoples. It should bother us all that the Chinese and Russians live under terrible oppression. We must end all dictatorships.

If we’re just for democracy for us, we’re not democrats. Then, we’re plain selfish. Being a democrat means wanting freedom and equality for all.

This is not to say that there is no nationwide indifference to the weak and unfortunate. Even in democracies, it’s still legal for some to amass money while many lack even their basic needs let alone equality.

Yet, the worst case of lack of heart is that for 40 years, the attempt to eradicate hunger has been futile, but who cares? Almost a billion people daily go to bed hungry. That means unnecessary suffering, sickness, an inability to grow up (literally), and deaths. That is evil. And, the moment we don’t care, it becomes our evil. We may not be able to change this on our own, immediately, but the first step is to care, collectively, today.

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 1500 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: 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 (, 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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