Truth Over Tyranny: Biblical wisdom for defeating the Technocrats.
These are my insights for defeating the Transhumanist Technocracy movement, based on the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, on the weekly Bible portion.
There is absolutely no doubt that our world needs to change for the better. We simply cannot have a situation in which elite megalomaniacs commit depopulation murder against the masses, and seek to enslave the rest with biotechnology. Even just saying those words makes you feel like you are living in a bad science fiction horror movie.
Those of us who choose to oppose this malevolent tyranny, tend to think in big terms. We look for the “wins” that will make a “real” difference. These include:
Electing candidates that are patriots and conservatives.
Bringing corrupt institutions and leaders to justice.
Developing educational alternatives that are free of harmful indoctrination.
Creating parallel economies to promote health and prosperity.
And many other forms of activism that better serve the public.
Our vision of a better future sees a landscape filled with cities and communities of people following the law, and doing the right things. And that is definitely where we need to end up. But the question is this: are the “big” wins the only way to get there? Are the political, legal, and economic arenas the only places in which we can make a difference?
Is it possible for the “regular”person in his or her “everyday” life to help usher in a better tomorrow? In his commentary on Parashat Vayeshev called “How to Change the World,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks shows us how it is not only possible, but necessary for us to promote the Good in our personal lives. Indeed, it is the key to enlisting the help of God in our struggle.
In the eyes of Rabbi Sacks, Biblical wisdom stresses the power of the individual:
“In his Hilchot Teshuvah (Laws of Repentance), Moses Maimonides makes one of the most empowering statements in religious literature. Having explained that we, and the world, are judged by the majority of our deeds, he continues:
“‘Therefore we should see ourselves throughout the year as if our deeds and those of the world are evenly poised between good and bad, so that our next act may change both the balance of our lives and that of the world.’
“We can make a difference, and it is potentially immense. That should be our mindset, always.
“Few statements are more at odds with the way the world seems to us most of the time. Each of us knows that there is only one of us, and that there are seven billion others in the world today. What conceivable difference can we make? We are no more than a wave in the ocean, a grain of sand on the seashore, dust on the surface of infinity. Is it conceivable that with one act we could change the trajectory of our life, let alone that of humanity as a whole? …”
Rabbi Sacks tells a story from modern times to drive home the point:
“There is a story I find very moving, about how in 1966 an eleven-year-old African-American boy moved with his family to a hitherto white neighbourhood in Washington. Sitting with his brothers and sisters on the front step of the house, he waited to see how they would be greeted. They were not. Passers-by turned to look at them, but no-one gave them a smile or even a glance of recognition. All the fearful stories he had heard about how whites treated Blacks seemed to be coming true. Years later, writing about those first days in their new home, he says, ‘I knew we were not welcome here. I knew we would not be liked here. I knew we would have no friends here. I knew we should not have moved here.’
“As he was thinking those thoughts, a woman passed by on the other side of the road. She turned to the children and with a broad smile said, ‘Welcome!’ Disappearing into the house, she emerged minutes later with a tray laden with drinks and cream cheese and jam sandwiches which she brought over to the children, making them feel at home. That moment – the young man later wrote – changed his life. It gave him a sense of belonging where there was none before. It made him realise, at a time when race relations in the United States were still fraught, that a Black family could feel at home in a white area and that there could be relationships that were colourblind. Over the years, he learned to admire much about the woman across the street, but it was that first spontaneous act of greeting that became, for him, a definitive memory. It broke down a wall of separation and turned strangers into friends.
“The young man, Stephen Carter, eventually became a law professor at Yale and wrote a book about what he learned that day. He called it Civility. The name of the woman, he tells us, was Sara Kestenbaum, and she died all too young. He adds that it was no coincidence that she was a religious Jew. ‘In the Jewish tradition,’ he notes, such civility is called ‘chessed’ – the doing of acts of kindness – which is in turn derived from the understanding that human beings are made in the image of God.’
“‘Civility,’ he continues, ‘itself may be seen as part of chessed: it does indeed require kindnesses toward our fellow citizens, including the ones who are strangers, and even when it is hard.’
“To this day, I can close my eyes and feel on my tongue the smooth, slick sweetness of the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches that I gobbled on that summer afternoon when I discovered how a single act of genuine and unassuming civility can change a life forever.'”
One small act, at a single point in time, can have an eternal impact:
“A single life, says the Mishnah, is like a universe. Change a life, and you begin to change the universe. That is how we make a difference: one life at a time, one day at a time, one act at a time. We never know in advance what effect a single act may have. Sometimes we never know it at all. Sara Kestenbaum… never did have the chance to read the book that told the story of the long-term consequences of that moment. But she acted. She did not hesitate. Neither, said Maimonides, should we. Our next act might tilt the balance of someone else’s life as well as our own.
“We are not inconsequential. We can make a difference to our world. When we do so, we become God’s partners in the work of redemption, bringing the world that is a little closer to the world that ought to be.”
I would add this:
It’s clear that our work to make the world a better place takes place in two dimensions: the personal and the public. We need better institutions. We need better governments. And we need better people to run them.