Less than a week ago, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief stated, “More than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.” Mr. O’Brien also said “$4.4bn was needed by July to avert disaster.”
Here is what I’d like to know: Mr. O’Brien has been in office for nearly two years now. What has he been doing all this time? What has the UN been doing? Starvation of twenty million people does not happen overnight. Why has the UN not sounded the alarm before? All of a sudden, the Internet and newsfeeds are inundated with harrowing images of emaciated children. Could the UN not tell the world about this when only five or ten million people were starving? Apparently, someone in that defunct institution calculated that it requires no less than twenty million starving people to redeem a ransom of $4.4 bn by July.
More than anything, Mr. O’Brien’s declaration is an admission that the UN is rotten to the core. The sole interests of the politicians and diplomats who serve in it are their paychecks and promoting their careers. For example, consider this piece of information coming from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). On its Frequently Asked Questions page, UNICEF USA refutes the “vicious” and unsubstantiated rumor that Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, “earns more than $1 million.” In truth, the organization proclaims, Mrs. Stern “earns $521,820.” Indeed, a CEO who is a role model of austerity.
The growing decadence of the UN should not surprise us. It goes hand in hand with humanity’s exponential growth of self-absorption and narcissism. To find a real alternative to the nations’ governing body, we need to start by addressing the root cause of all the problems.
In 1964, Nobel Prize laureate in physics Dennis Gabor wrote, “Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature.” In fact, we have been up against our own nature since Biblical times, when we learned that all of our problems are because “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). Still, until recently, when we began to realize the great harm that excessive selfishness inflicts on the world, we obstinately tried to circumvent the problem rather than solve it.
Over the eons, humanity has tried every conceivable form of governance in search of the ideal way to balance our need for social connections with our inherent self-centeredness. Slavery, feudalism, capitalism, liberalism, fascism, communism, and Nazism have all been part of the trail of blood and suffering we call “the annals of human history.” Still, we have not found a single form of governance that is both sustainable and guarantees the well-being of all people. And the reason we have not found one is that, not only are we narcissistic and selfish to the core, but are also growing incrementally more so exponentially! Now we are at a tipping point. We have become so apathetic to each other that if we do not find a remedy for the ills of human nature, media outlets will soon regard twenty million starving people as not newsworthy.
To truly help ourselves, we must address two issues. The first is provision of sustenance. In a world where so much food gets lost or wasted, it is unacceptable that human beings should starve. The food already exists. All we need is to collect and ship it where it’s needed.
The second issue to address concerns prevention. This entails a long-term program that will ultimately change the way we think and feel about the world—from the current exploitative mindset to a more balanced and sustainable approach.
The Secret of Our Nation
In a TED talk given in May 2010, acclaimed American sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis stated that human beings form a kind of superorganism. Approximately eighty years prior, acclaimed commentator on The Book of Zohar Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote, “We have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society. …In our generation, when each person is aided for his happiness by all the countries in the world … the possibility of leading a good, happy, and peaceful life in one country is inconceivable when it is not so in all the countries in the world.” To this, Ashlag added, “People have not yet grasped this,” but stressed that it is only because “the act comes before the understanding, and only actions will prove and push humanity forward.” In other words, we will not feel that we are a single superorganism (as Christakis put it) until we begin to act the part.
This begs the question: How could such a deeply divided world operate as one superorganism? Consider this curious fact: The only nation to have survived since antiquity is the Jewish nation. The Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman nations have all vanished, and only Judaism remains. Scholars, philosophers, philo-Semites and anti-Semites throughout the ages have pondered, “What is the secret of his immortality?” as Mark Twain asked about the Jew.
The answer lies in a fundamental difference between the Jews and all other nations. The secret to our endurance is the adhesive of unity. The early Jews came from different tribes and cultures. The only thing that held them together was an idea that Abraham had taught them: Mercy and love are the foundation stones upon which to build society. Whenever the ego erupts, do not fight or part ways, but cover it with love instead. The wisest of all men, King Solomon, succinctly summarized Abraham’s principle: “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Proverbs 10:12).
Living by this approach has held the Jews together through crises and wars for approximately 1,500 years—from Abraham’s time until the ruin of the Second Temple some two millennia ago. Moreover, history has proven that the “cement” of unity that covers egoism is so strong that it not only sustained the Jewish people longer than any other nation, but also kept them intact through countless attempts to destroy and disperse them. Although today’s Jews have lost that special unity that had sustained them for centuries, the persistent strength of that adhesive is still strong enough to keep our nation in existence.
Successful Proof of Concept
The historic fact of our unique survival is the key to solving the world’s problems. Unity over egoism is the one mode of governance the world has not yet tried. Faced with the risk of another world war, mass starvation, accelerated global warming, and pollution of natural resources, I think we simply must give this approach a serious consideration. Of all unlikely people, it was notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford who wrote, “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.” On this point, he could not be more right.
As Ashlag said, “the act comes before the understanding.” Today, we are implementing Abraham’s principle of unity above enmity de facto. After numerous successful unity events throughout the world, including in conflict zones such as Israel, with Arabs and Jews, we are certain that we can reinstate our forefathers’ method on a large scale (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3 [the latter is in Hebrew, switch on the Subtitles option]).
In my view, until we deal with the heart of the problem—the egoism in human nature—and do so specifically in the way that Abraham bequeathed to his disciples, by bonding atop their animosity, we will find no relief to our woes. The notion that we need not suppress our unruly egos, but simply exert to unite above them may be a novel idea to some, but in my view, we have run out of options. The implementation of Abraham’s method is the only way to spare humanity many more years of needless torment.