The war in Ukraine is unlike any war that’s been. Although it seems local, this war is changing the world. In the end, after all the pain, the parties will establish new relationships, and new relationships will be established around the world. This war is the beginning of a formation of a new world order, where all parties unite against the one common enemy of all of humanity: egoism. It will take time, but everyone involved will realize, and the whole world with them, that they are not fighting against each other, but against an enemy within them. If we let the idea sink in, even a bit, it will make it happen even sooner.
The war that began in late February will not end soon. It will take many more months until everyone realizes that war itself, the very concept of it, is evil. In that sense, the war in eastern Europe is correcting all of humanity, transforming our perception and our understanding of good and evil.
The casualties, the injured, and the lost property are a terrible price to pay. Nevertheless, global processes always come at a cost. We should not blame others for the cost, and we should not think that there is nothing each of us can do to change the world. It is in the hands of every person to change the world for the better, and to make the atrocities of war, and all atrocities that humans are inflicting on each other, disappear. All we need is to realize that the only enemy lies within us—our self-centered attitude. It incites us against each other, demonizes and vilifies anyone who disagrees with us, tells us that we are the only ones entitled in this world, and thereby sets us off against each other. We are all like that, infected with a pandemic of narcissism.
Nevertheless, there is a lot we can do to change the world. First, we must accept that there is a good reason we are so different from each other. Each of us makes a unique contribution to the world that no one else can. If we were all the same, the contributions we receive from others, and on which our lives depend, would be absent, and we would not survive, in the most physical sense of the word.
We will realize that our ego is the enemy only when we realize that singularity is the wrong key word for happiness. Today, the key word for happiness is complementarity—mutual satisfaction of each other’s material, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
We are living in a world where we are all dependent on each other. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the appliances and gadgets that we use are all made by people we do not know, in places we do not know, and reach us in ways we do not know. But were it not for this chain of myriad unknown individuals, we would not survive, since we cannot provide for our needs by ourselves.
The same goes for social ties. All our connections, communications, and interactions with other people are made possible with the help of countless people who serve us without our awareness. But were it not for them, we would not be able to work or socialize.
Despite this obvious fact, we behave toward others with as little consideration as possible, and when we are nice or considerate, it is because we have an ulterior, selfish motive. We do not have the prerogative to keep up this behavior. We are destroying the world and destroying ourselves.
Back in the 1930s, Baal HaSulam, a great thinker and a great kabbalist, wrote an epic essay titled “Peace in the World.” In it, he writes, “Man is inherently born to lead a social life. Each and every individual in society is like a wheel that is linked to several other wheels placed in a machine.” How odd it is that ninety years ago, before World War II, people already realized that we are all dependent on each other and must behave toward each other with consideration. Just think what we could have avoided had we been more attentive and open-minded.
Now, too, we are headed for a catastrophe unless we pay attention and begin to act like one entity, one global society that works like a single, united family. The war will change the world, but I hope we can change ourselves before the war changes us.