Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

The good men of U#2 — a modern fairytale or a vision of where to go with society?

You couldn’t call it a village. A few houses only, in the middle of nowhere. Not only could you not call it a village — it was not called anything. It had no name. That’s where men were settled by the government program to rehabilitate men incarcerated for violent crimes. There were rapists, murderers, gang members — not the kind of people that most of us would look for to build a circle of friends.

But don’t assume for a moment that the atmosphere in the settlement was grim or eerie. Part of the conditions to be released there was that these men had seriously participated in Non-Violent Communication training and in a new variant of Alcoholics Anonymous, called Violence Anonymous. It was unprecedented what camaraderie there was between all the men who lived there. They not only had participated in NVC and VA but they continued with these self-help therapies.

Anger was unheard of in the settlement. As soon as one of the men even felt any anger, he would ask others to surround him and hold him. And everyone loved to help everyone. When inside the center of such an ‘anger hub,’ a man could feel safe to rage without hurting himself, others, or anything. Generally, the anger didn’t last long before giving way to sobbing, ‘violent’ shaking, and roaring laughter. They all got familiar with these signs and the goodness of deep emotional healing as well as most people know how well a glass of water may quench one’s thirst.

Another way the general atmosphere of warmth and closeness was maintained was that alcohol, tobacco, and even coffee were not allowed — not available. Not even ‘innocent’ recreational drugs. The men felt either great or would sit down (or stand up) to receive support to go through some bad feelings to return to relaxed happiness.

One of the conditions for their release inside the program was that they had to stay in the non-village for at last two years. Visitors not allowed. Leaving neither. There was a modest grocery shop, a medical doctor with a pharmacy, and that was about it. Other stuff they bought done online. And most men worked online too. They slept, cooked, and ate together. But the weekly highlights were the creativity evenings. From choral performance to improvised standup and the open mike, anything that released a generous smile or good laugh was available. And pornography and any sex at all were forbidden by a unanimous vote. But talking about an urge to become sexual was not taboo at all. Their philosophy was: Later, when you’re in a steady relationship, you should enjoy sex with your better half — not now. No sex for the sake of sex. Men who wanted that ‘freedom’ were free to return to jail and get into another program for their return into society at large. But this hardly happened.

Another thing that didn’t happen was violent speech, slander, and oppressive ‘jokes’ or behavior. How could one be a racist or supremacist, arrogant or a bully when one is happy and surrounded by close friends? There was plenty of unusualness around. The sight of only men, smiling from ear to ear, with occasional clusters of men around one guy sobbing. But what’s wrong with that? These men were having the best life they ever had. Their greatest time was when they could help another and their greatest talent was their empathy. They were going to be great spouses.

They were such a happy bunch that even a limited number of ‘sociopaths’ had joined their program and community. Just the fact that they had little empathy didn’t mean they couldn’t learn to be vulnerable and weren’t lonely. They learned to open up, to cry again, and to be close and warm.

But after their compulsory two-year stay, most of the men didn’t leave. Rather, they decided to look for friends and partners online and live with them in the village. They requested and received official recognition as a village and its name, U2, was also approved. It had put itself on the map, literally and figuratively. They made bylaws that stipulated that closeness and happiness, empathy and camaraderie, drug-free and porn-free life, and deep therapy experience and continuation were all their binding ways of life. Modest, non-provocative clothing was mandatory too.

Soon, U2 was flooded by women and homosexual and heterosexual men without any violent background. They enjoyed the safety of being among so many happy, relaxed, warm men and of a non-oppressive society. They gladly subscribed to U2’s bylaws because they realized they had little to lose but their unhappiness and loneliness. Many classes were given about how oppressions worked targeting non-Whites, women, GLBTQs, young people, working-class people, people who were mentally or physically ‘different,’ Jews, seniors — you name it, and how to be a good ally in general. They learned how to preserve and recycle. It was easier to care for nature and the planet once one cared about oneself and each other.

And it didn’t stop there. Soon, interviewers and guided tours with decently clad outsiders became a regular sight in U2. They wanted to know what their secrets were. Democratic society, with all its liberty gone wrong, freedom to feel and be bad (until caught), clearly needed an upgrade. And that is how a tiny settlement, in the middle of nowhere, became the epicenter of a worldwide evolution of democratic society into a human-centered humane society where people could live the way life ought to be.

Even cold (and lonely) dictators came by to learn how to let go and allow for a peaceful transition to something good for everyone. (many old-timers of U2 became therapists.) And every nation profited from the end of wars that followed. And now that people had stopped killing each other, more prominence was given to medical science to end all illness and stop and reverse aging, practically bringing the end of death into everyone’s reach.

Let’s do it.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. 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 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. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), 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), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating 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. * 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. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. 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 a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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