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

You’re not guilty. You’re innocent. You’re not punished. You’re challenged.

Four tragedies unfolded last week that made the Israeli news. The first one ended well, the others not. I will tell you about the first one and the others. And then why none of the ‘culprits’ are guilty — and what that means.

My landline rang last week at midday. I looked at the clock. It was 12:50. Who could that be? My best friend. He said: ‘I possibly made the biggest mistake of my life. I left our oldest daughter next to the swimming pool for 3, 5 minutes, I don’t know how long. She got into the water. We are now in Hadassah Ein Kerem. Come now.’

What should I do? I don’t have the immune system of my young friend. There is a pandemic raging. I’ve not been outside for months. I’m not a physician to treat anyone. I called my oldest son. In two minutes he set up a web address where people can say Psalms and commit to good deeds for a speedy and total recovery for her. No, he said, you should not go.

I called my daughter. She’s doing her army service. Can you go in my place, as my deputy? I don’t know about your kids but I noticed that my kids are better versions of me. They still need to honor me, but not because I’m superior. Rather, to not ruin their humility and gratefulness. They may see farther than me but that’s only because they could stand on my shoulders.

She was in Tel Aviv. Quite a journey. Sure, she said, I’ll ask my superior for permission. She called me back. She had talked to her oldest half-sister and oldest half-brother for feedback and support. She was on her sunny way. She’d packed enough to hang out no matter how long it would take.

She did such an excellent job. She bought the parents food to eat. And, on my instruction, she started telling my friend that he was not guilty. She kept repeating it. And when someone subtly tried to imply that it was his fault, she was prepared and argued him down. It’s not his fault.

***

The 3-year-old girl was rushed to the hospital with suspected brain damage but ended up with no ailment at all. Many helped.

Her father left for only a few minutes, then found her face-down in the water. He sprinted and pulled her out. No pulse. He started heart massage and mouth-to-mouth, which he just happened to learn before leaving a teachers’ training but never practiced teaching or CPR. He did a good job (and so did she): s/he didn’t break any ribs.

She still had no pulse when the ambulance pulled in. But early on their way, they detected a weak pulse. They gave her mouth-to-mouth, not mechanical ventilation (which may hurt the lungs).

The ambulance driver not only looked like a Mafioso but he also drove like one. The road to the hospital would normally take 40 minutes but it took him 15 minutes. When they got there, some 20 specialized nurses and doctors were awaiting her to check her out immediately even before bringing her into the child intensive care.

That’s the great thing now. Hospitals receive word from the ambulance what trouble is arriving and specialists wait already outside to be immediately at the door of the ambulance while inside everyone is on standby. Very handy when half a minute can make the difference between life or (brain/heart) death.

Upon arrival, the girl looked brain-dead but suddenly started wailing. The main specialist was very pleased. When you cry so loudly, you need to breathe very deeply, so, no further damage is done. And any child crying so much is a good sign, of strength and brainpower.

The Child IC nurses all were absolutely fabulous, also for the parents.

Thousands of people around the globe, Jews and Gentiles, believers and agnostics, prayed and wished well. The Book of Psalms was read twice through over 100 people. Their home community, known for being divided into countless small groups of ‘I do it my way’ came together in prayer in a unity not seen before.

There was so much support for the parents. I spoke to both of them on the last day in the hospital. They were doing great. They’re totally amazed by the Goodness that came down, thank G^d. My kids did a great job replacing me so that I could safely stay home.

Great thought throughout was put not only into saving her life and brains but also into not hurting her in treatment. They did not pump the fluid from her lungs but gave her diuretics. They didn’t under-cool her (sometimes done to win time and delay biochemical damage) because they saw that no further damage would occur because of the crying, etc.

When she was rushed to the hospital, it made the (Hebrew) news. That she made it, wasn’t in the news. Though, that’s the kind of news we need.

The best disasters are where you come out better than you went in and lost nothing.

And when disaster hits a family, Heaven forbid, they either come out closer or it rips the family apart, G^d forbid. There seems no middle ground.

Everybody is acknowledged and thanked for the joint effort.

Two Young Children Died Forgotten in Cars

Also last week, an Arab boy of 3 and a Jewish boy of 4 died of heatstroke after they were forgotten in the car. Horrific. Not the most honorific death (in fire is worse because you don’t lose conscience). But having to bury your child is already the worst. Under these circumstances, it’s indescribable. How do you mourn at all, so overwhelmed?

Nazi Concentration Camp Guard

Also last week, a Nazi concentration camp guard, 93, was not sent to jail for his complicity in the mass murder of 5,230 people. To me, he seemed more troubled by the trial than by his own deeds. He got a two-year suspended sentence. This rightly was condemned. In MHO, he should have gotten 5,230 life sentences, with a possibility for parole at the age of 95, after 2 years, if he admits to and states regret for his role in the butchery.

You’re not Guilty but Innocent. You’re not Punished but Challenged to Make a Difference in the World.

Let me say, as an introduction, that generally, as a therapist, I will give clients lots of space, especially if we don’t know each other well yet. People, most of the time, can do miracles with you ‘just’ listening warmly, being available. Don’t prod or dig into the brain of others. It will bring up exactly what they can handle. There is no guarantee for what we stir up.

A case in point where we see that very clearly is with sexuality. Probing questions often have to do more with the sexuality of the one asking than with the one we should focus on. With experience and with having cleaned up one’s own sexual history a bit, it’s not difficult to treat someone shy around sexuality without asking anything. Just pretend it’s said already.

– You don’t like talking about it?

– No, I don’t.

– How do you feel about it?

– About what happened?

– Yes.

– Horrible … Lonely.

– I’m with you.

– It’s for years now.

– Such a long time! How have you coped over the years?

etc.

So, as a therapist, generally, you listen and you don’t prod.

***

But in some cases, therapists may take initiative, talk ‘before their turn,’ and bluntly call a spade a spade.

And this is what I would have said (and am still saying) to my friend (and so said his wife immediately), and to the parents of the kids who died forgotten in the cars, and even to the Nazi concentration camp guard. (The biggest war criminals and sexual predators, typically, are not feeling any guilt. They rationalize and compartmentalize their actions and feelings and live happily in total denial. There is no ‘making them feel guilty.’ Only when their innocence is proclaimed and defended at length, they might re-find their humanity, battle guilt, and make appropriate, decent choices about how to give their lives meaning.) When they cry or scream in response, I know I struck gold and when they calm down, I continue. You would cry too if it happened to you. (Crying is not hurting; crying is healing.) This is what I would say:

Innocent

I’m sorry for your loss. Such a big hurt. So unimaginable. (To the parents whose children had died.)

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Every single human being has always, when the entire situation is taken into account, done the very best that she or he could do and therefore deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of YOU.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

If you could have done better, you would have done better. You didn’t, so you couldn’t. It’s time to face the sad truth.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Arrogance

We overrate our brains. They are vulnerable to distraction. That we fully are masters of our future. Our biggest mistake is that we assume that we won’t forget and be in charge, not that we forget.

I never forget anything? You already forgot what you forgot. It won’t happen to me? That’s what all these people thought that this happened to. The fastest road to forgetting or doing evil is thinking that you won’t.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Blame

We live in dangerous times. We are under-slept, overburdened, stressed-out, exhausted, preoccupied, lonely, irritable.

But let’s not blame ourselves or each other. We don’t blame the victim. First, you’re kicked and then, you’re blamed for bleeding. Let’s not blame the victim. Even not when you look like the perpetrator.

I have a friend in England, a Gentile Ally to Jews, who say: all the stress in Israel so clearly comes from 2,000 years of persecution. (I would include Israeli Arabs, whether they are the few who serve in the army or those not. They live under at least as much stress as the Jews here. Their salaries are also not what they should be. The bank also eats too much from their income. They also ride on roads where ‘everyone’ drives like maniacs.) My friend Jo says: If you must blame anyone, blame me. I’ll stand for all the Gentiles oppressing and stressing-out the Jews. Blame me — not each other.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Maybe we should blame the one who distracted you? Maybe the one who woke you up from your so needed sleep, leaving you sleepy or exhausted? G^d? The Devil?

Forget it. Don’t try to assign blame. Blame is about the past. What’s needed is to stress the future, the time from now onward.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Future

A tiny bit of guilt feelings is good. It shows that you’re a human being, knowing the difference between good and evil. But any tiny bit more than a tiny bit is not realistic and not productive.

Face it, with all your pain, you’re not dead. If you’re not dead, you can turn this lack of proper behavior into glorious deeds. You can turn to the media, to the public, to schools, and teach how deeply you learned your lesson.

Your life is not over. It only just got started.

G^d/the Devil/Life didn’t punish you. There’s not enough hatred in the Universe for that. Rather, you’re challenged. Not that anyone would want this challenge. Not that you sought this challenge. Not that you now can reject it. It did happen so it had to happen that way exactly.

You don’t want to go into history as the one who did this. You want to be known for the one who tried to make the best of this. To use what you understand now better than anyone and teach it everyone else for free. That the hurt you caused will not be completely in vain, for prevention.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Free Will

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Free will is not that you could have done differently. It’s that you should have done differently. (The solution to the problem philosophers looked for for millennia.)

Even a legal conviction cannot mean that you could have done differently. It’s a societal statement that you should have.

You’re innocent. You’re completely innocent.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re not guilty.

Have a good, meaningful life.

Prevention of Car Deaths

A friend of my friend said that when he has a kid in his car, he always puts one of his sandals back there. So he can’t go anywhere without opening the backdoor.

The safety organization Beterem suggests that stress and routine breaking exacerbate the risks. They suggest the following preventative strategies:

Do not say ‘it will not happen to me.’

Open the back door at the end of each trip.

Always talk to your spouse/partner on arrival.

Leave a vital object in the back seat.

Install a reminder on your cell phone.

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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