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

There is bad in the best of us and good in the worst of us

An exercise in nuance without going extreme about it

The above headline is a quote from Martin Luther King junior.

It clearly says something else than the comment by US President Trump that equated marching White supremacists and Nazis, and protesting anti-Nazi activists: “There are very fine people on both sides.”

But how can we understand King’s statement when we look at the really worst (Hitler, Pol Pot)? Do we really need to search for any good in them? And even when we find some, does it have any relevance?

I would make a difference between an unrepented mass murderer who wants to be admired and someone who genuinely wants to better his life no matter what anyone thinks of him. Even after the worst things, things change for me when someone admits, regrets, is willing to pay for his crimes, and dedicates his life to educating everyone to fight (in themselves, others, and society) crimes like his. However …

Don’t hold your breath. the story of Pharaoh shows that there is a point of no return where it becomes exceedingly hard to turn one’s life around. Even when he finally gave up on his evil stance, within days, he regretted it and reverted to his previous display of hatred.

However, people tend to depict (or see) their simple political opponents as the worst of the worst, all bad, while they are not mass murderers. Labeling anyone as if Hitler or Pol Pot not only insults them but also normalizes and trivializes these symbols of wickedness and their crimes.

So, disagree all you want but see and admit that almost all people are neither complete saints nor complete devils. Feel free to reject the bad but also mention the good.

I oppose vehemently the racial hatred and general harshness by Rabbi Meir Kahane but he did attempt to show US Jews that they needed to regain some pride and backbone.

I disagree passionately with the naivety and false equivalence by Israel’s loony left but they’re right when rejecting bitterness or hopeless.

But everything that US President Trump ever said was to deceive and confuse. The breath he exhaled was already a lie. Nothing positive about him can redeem him. Although it’s worthwhile to remember that he wasn’t the problem. The hatred and greed his used are the problems.

To paint a black-and-white picture helps with clarity. Yet, let’s not forget that it’s an artifact that doesn’t properly reflect all of reality.

And, not only is there bad in the best and good in the worst. Wicked people can turn out saints, and the reverse. About others, Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to say: You never know. You may be pleasantly surprised. And the opposite is true too. Our Sages warn us: Don’t believe in yourself until your last day. Anyone: always watch out for making a very bad move.

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 (, 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. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
Related Topics
Related Posts