Once they figured it out, they got the ‘privilege’ to join the liars …
It’s not that I want the police involved. Rather, I mean that as humanity, we seriously should stop raising generations of liars.
I’m going to go beyond problems like Santa Claus’s slaves having blackface and uprooting Christmas trees, beyond freedom of religion and the separation of state and religion, and beyond the virtue of being honest.
The main problem is not normalizing lying and theft but that most people end up not thinking for themselves and being misled all their lives.
It starts with teaching religious beliefs as facts. Then come Santa and the Eastern Bunny. Then supremacies. UFOs. A Flat Earth. And then Trump.
In the end, who thinks for themselves still, has any critical sense left, and is cynical enough not to follow charismatic dictators naively?
Herd mentality allows the bad guys to get away with mass murder. Groups chanting hatefully: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ convinced it’s an act of love, but unable to name that river or that sea.
There is no such thing as an innocent lie. Especially not when it involves making people terrified of even thinking of rebelling against assumptions.
You can’t buy off lying to kids by feeling guilty. Just stop the pretense.
Be delighted with everyone around you when they think for themselves.
We can’t build a better world, while most people are extremely naïve and believe every con artist and flatterer vying for their votes.
Thinking critically doesn’t end in atheism and anarchy inevitably. But it may help the average faithful and citizens to purify heritage and customs.
Is that not a scary experiment? Well, not relative to our situation. What ever could be scarier than the race we are in now with as runners: climate change extinction, global nuclear war, and universal totalitarianism?
Make-belief and play-acting should be reserved for playing. Most ex-kids could use more playfulness in life. Which doesn’t mean it always must be serious. But we’d better be sincere when imagining we were at the Exodus from Egypt, or when praying, we’re standing in front of G^d—though not so totally we literally believe our imagination to be factual. He’s beyond us.
The difference between a magician and a swindler is that the former is supposed to trick you, and you’re the happiest when you can’t understand the hoax. A religious trickster tries to confuse you into believing, while a pious person shows you what good you can do with certain assumptions.
Teach everyone around that there are no forbidden questions.
Many Jewish scholars say that Orthodox Judaism doesn’t have any real dogmas, but I don’t want to elevate that to be a good dogma.
There is nothing more Jewish than to check with reality. G^d is secular.
My friend and teacher Harvey Jackins often said something like: Trust your own thinking. Trust your own thinking. Trust your own thinking. You could misunderstand me to mean that you should trust my thinking that you should trust your own thinking, but I think most of you know what I mean.
Now, which should be our main goal: being honest and authentic, trusting your thinking or thinking for yourself, welcoming all questions, becoming less naïve, or bravely living with doubt? They seem all related, and each one seems to imply all the others. The honesty seems to breed emotional closeness, trusting your thinking breeds trusting your intuition, welcoming all questions breeds humility, being less naïve breeds becoming a non-manipulative leader, and being brave breeds authenticity—a benign circle.
How do I, as an Orthodox Jew, dare to write the above? Other Orthodox Jews might have different answers, but some of mine are the following. Quite obviously, generally, G^d doesn’t force people. He wants us to choose the best of our options, make the most of any situation, and not cause long-term unnecessary hurt. Lying to our kids to make them follow our best interpretation or understanding is enforcement. Giving a good example is not. The Torah hardly rejects anything more forcefully than dishonesty. Last, but not least, G^d is not a moody idol that needs to be placated. All His Requests are for our good, including facing challenges. So, we can’t go wrong when we model our students and kids to do what’s right and safe over what’s only-me, familiar, and comfortable. And when we give enough support, almost all people will choose best almost always. And if they went wrong but trust their thinking, they will figure it out and change course. The last they need is others messing with their mind.
Judaism doesn’t allow us to sell it using tricks and lies. G^d’s seal is truth. We’re taught to be outside like our inside, not to be hypocrites.
Though the Beatles sang “All you need is love,” that’s not true. We also need more than integrity. These should have high priorities, but the most important is humility. Luckily, if you’re honest, you can only be humble. And the humbler you are, the more it becomes impossible to hate, be angry, arrogant, egocentric, stingy, ungrateful, careless, and fearless.
Full disclosure: Being strictly honest is an important cultural norm in the Netherlands. That doesn’t mean there are no liars or thieves among the Dutch. The jails are bursting with prisoners. But maybe that’s too because the Dutch love honesty too much to let crooks get away with dishonesty.