In a couple of days, we will mark the beginning of a new year according to the Hebrew calendar and we will wish each other “Happy new year.” This year, I hope that the emphasis will be on the “new” rather than on the “happy.” It’s not that I’m against happiness, but let’s be honest, it’s going to be a tough year, and in my view, only honesty can help us mitigate the adversities ahead.
It is already clear to everyone that we are mistreating each other, and not just Jews, but humanity in general. What is less clear is the impact of our ill-will toward each other on all aspects of our lives.
There are many levels to the negative effects of our self-absorption, our ruthless competition, and our desire to patronize and be superior to others. It is impossible to elaborate on all of them here, but even on the most superficial level, it is clear that excessive competitiveness, which forces us to consume much more than we need just so as to “keep up with the Joneses,” causes accelerated depletion of Earth’s resources. When Earth retaliates—through Covid, wildfires, hurricanes, or floods—we try to forcefully maintain our abusive way of life.
And again, our primary victims are not animals or Earth, but other people. The tragedy happening right now with the fires in the West Coast is nothing compared to the pain we are inflicting on each other. At the moment, there is enough hatred in human society to fuel a deluge of catastrophes on humanity. And since this hatred is especially apparent in the American society, America is bound to be hit very, very badly.
I am not saying this to depress anyone. On the contrary, I am saying this so that people will turn their attention to the real reason for their troubles: the hatred in society. If they focus on that point and start working on changing the atmosphere of hate and suspicion in American society, then much of what is predicted to happen will not happen, or will happen but very mildly. We can turn Covid from a terminal illness to many into a mild flu or even make it asymptomatic simply by wishing one another well. In fact, the effort to think well of one another and wish well for one another is enough to make a radical difference in how events will develop in the coming year.
This is why I wish us honesty, so we can start working shoulder to shoulder on building a supportive and caring society rather than a competitive and cold one. And no time is better than the beginning of a new year.
So I would like to wish all people, Jews and non-Jews alike, that the coming year will be a year of sincerity, a year of acknowledgment of our abilities and inabilities, our faults and our choices, a year when we will choose to do good to one another. Then, and only then will we have a happy year, and that will certainly be something new.
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