Showing posts with label Reward and Punishment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reward and Punishment. Show all posts

July 16, 2019

We're Part of a Much Larger Script

I loved this explanation of the Book of Job by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

G-d answers by showing Job the incredible elements of creation and the universe.

Why?

1) Complexity and Interrelationship of the Universe:

As isolated individuals, we might expect to be judged solely by our individual deeds of good and bad (2-dimensional), but also we are cogs in the larger universe (the 3rd dimension).

Therefore, what happens to us is not just a result of what we do, but also is a part of G-d's larger overall plan for the world. 


Even small acts can have large impacts.

For example, you sneeze and somewhere down the line it causes a tsunami.

Similarly, like actors in a cosmic play of a billion pages, we may not see or understand why our individual role may be what it is, but if you would see and understand the context of the overall drama (what came before us, after us, and how it all interrelates) then from a G-d's eye view, it makes sense.

Every act of destruction can lead to a higher divine purpose.

Like the grass that is mowed over and uprooted to plants crops or the wheat that is harvested and ground up to make bread.

So, we can have faith that there is a reason and purpose for everything even if it is a mystery or unanswered question to us.


And even in our suffering, G-d, the master of the Universe, is saying that "I'm here with you thru it all." You are not alone!

2) By challenging us, G-d gives us the "tough gift" to cope, grow, and become better people.

Even though things that happen may look bad to you, they can lead to good for you.

You don't always get what you want, but you get what you need.

You have choice: you can be bitter, resentful, cynical, and angry or can look at life with hope, optimism and resilience.

Thus, suffering can be a vehicle of self-transformation and elevation. The challenges you face can help you become a different person--a greater person.

You can learn to feel not just your own pain and disappointment, but that of others.

You have the opportunity to grow yourself and the opportunity to help others.

(Thank you to Rebecca Ochayon for sending me this awesome video!)

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February 27, 2019

Dog Eyes and Knows

Something very cute about this dog and how he's looking. 

Almost seems like there is a person inside there.

See the twinkle and knowing in his eye. 

Makes me wonder whether dogs (and other animals) were once people who have been reincarnated.

Is a dog and a person soul both the same (or how are they different)?

I am sure that there is divine justice (or Comedy) in coming back and in so many different ways and forms. 

This dog knows something for sure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2018

A Social System that Inspires Pride and Shame


This story continues to fascinate me. 

China's social credit system started in 2015. 

China scores individuals based on public data (social media, financial, insurance, health, shopping, dating, and more), and they have people that act as "information collectors" (i.e. neighborhood watchers) who record what their neighbors are doing--good and bad. 

Each individual starts with a 1,000 points. 

If you do good things in Chinese society--helping people, cleaning up, being honest--you get points added. 

If you do bad things in China--fight with people, make a mess, be dishonest--you get points deducted. 

Fail below 1,000 points and you are in trouble--and can get blacklisted!

A good score is something to be proud of and a bad score is something that shames people to hopefully change for the better. 

But more than that, your social score has tangible social impacts--it can determine your ability to get into certain schools, obtain better jobs, homes, loans/mortgages, high-speed internet, and even high-speed train tickets/airplane flights. 

While maybe well intentioned, certainly, this has the very real potential to become a surveillance state and the embodiment of "Big Brother"!

On one hand, it seems like a great thing to drive people and society to be better. Isn't that what we do with recognizing and rewarding good behavior and with our laws and justice system in punishing bad behavior?

Yet, to me this type of all-encompassing social credit system risks too much from a freedom and privacy perspective. Should the government and all your neighbors be privy to your most intimate doings and dealings?  And should people be controlled to such an extent that literally everything you do is monitored and measured and counted for/against you?

It seems to me that the price of sacrificing your very personal liberty is too high to make in order to push people towards positive social goals.

Guiding people is one thing, and rewarding outstanding acts and punishing horrific ones is understandable, but getting into people's knickers is another. 

This type of social credit system really borders on social control and moves us towards a very disturbing, dystopian future. ;-)
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December 2, 2018

Triad of Determinants: Nature, Nurture, and Soul

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Nature, Nurture, and Soul."
We are not just what nature and nurture make us–but rather, there is a third leg of this triad of factors that make us who we are, and that third and most important element is that we each have a soul. The soul of each person guides us to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and sacred and impure, and to not just give in to our weaknesses, which each person has.

Hope you enjoy the article! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 17, 2018

Striving To Be Good Enough (This Time Around)

Please read my new article in The Times of Israel called, "When Are We Good Enough?"
I too believe strongly in reincarnation. I think that is partially what G-d means by doing justice in this world. If you bomb out in life and don't fulfill your true potential than G-d sends you back for another try.  And this can happen as many times as it takes to get it right!

I hope I am getting it right in my life this time around. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 23, 2016

Your Score Is Your Life

Absolutely fascinating article in the Washington Post

China is working on a plan to use big data to score people on their social behavior. 

Every interaction you make in life either increments or decrements your social score. 

You social score determines how trustworthy you are. 

The social score would vacuum up data from the "courts, police, banking, tax, and employment records."

People in service professions like teacher, doctors, and business could be scored for their professionalism. 

Doing positive social actions like caring for the elderly earn you added points and doing negative social actions like DUI or running a red light subtracts points from your score. 

As the score includes more and more data feeds over time, you could eventually be scored for doing your homework, chores in the home, how you treat your wife and children, the community service you do, how hard you perform at work, how you treat people socially and on dates, whether you are fair in your business dealings and treat others well, whether you do your religious duties, and so on. 

People can get rated for just about everything they do.

And these rating get aggregated into your social score. 

The score is immediately available to everyone and so they know how good or bad you are on the scale of 1 to a 1,000.

If you think people are stressed out now, can you imagine having to worry about everything you do and how you will be rated for it and how it can affect your score and your future. 

If you have a bad score, say goodbye to opportunities for education, employment, loans, friends, and marriage prospects. 

Imagine people held hostage by others threatening to give you a bad score because they don't like you, are racist, or for blackmail. 

What about society abusing this power to get you to not only follow positive social norms, but to enforce on you certain political leanings, religious followings, or policy endorsements. 

Social scores could end up meaning the ultimate in social control. 

Personal scores can manipulate your behavior by being rewarding or punitive and rehabilitative to whatever end the scoring authorities dictate. 

Moreover, hackers or the people who control the big data machinery could destroy your life in a matter of milliseconds. 

So this is what it comes down to: You are your score!

Play along and do what you are told to do...you are the Borg and you will follow. 

Conform or you are dead by number!

Transparency is everywhere. 

Pluses and minuses every day. 

What is my score today? 

Today, I am desirable and successful, and tomorrow, I am disregarded and a loser. 

Please don't kill my score.

Please don't destroy me. 

Please, I will be socially good. 

Please, I will not resist. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 14, 2016

Deserving To Be President

I took this photo this morning of this guy in a shirt that says, "Good deeds eventually are rewarded."


My question is whether the corollary is true, and are bad deeds eventually punished?


Watching this horrible election play out, this shirt helped me to figure out what was bothering me about the alleged crookedness of one or more candidates. 

And it's not just that they seem to have done corrupt things, because there are a lot of bad people out there that have done really terrible things.


Rather no matter what horrible things the candidates do, they don't seem to get punished for it, but rather they bask in more money, more fame, more honor, and now potentially the highest office of the land, the very President of the United States itself. 


Do people like this who are allegedly involved in the following types of activities deserve to win the election (and rule over almost 320 million Americans)?
  • Rigs the election and commits voter fraud against Bernie Sanders
  • Colludes and conspires with the DNC 
  • Money launders millions, if not billions, of dollars through a "charitable" foundation
  • Uses political office for personal benefit and conducts ethical violations with "pay to play" donors and cronyism between the public and private sectors
  • Manipulates the media "echo chamber" 
  • Gets off child rapists and laughs about it
  • Keeps secret servers and destroys email
  • Lies and commits perjury
  • Recklessly handles and endangers national security
  • Doesn't enforce "red lines" against regimes using weapons of mass destruction
  • Embraces and makes bogus deals with our sworn enemy, Iran (the #1 state sponsor of terrorism and human rights abuses worldwide)
  • Leads from behind in world events in the face of dangerous regimes
  • Wastes our nations blood and treasure in the premature retreat from Iraq
  • Sows rapid violence, refugees, and crises worldwide
  • Oversees the weakest U.S. economic recovery in history and a doubling our national debt to $20 trillion
  • Takes this nation in the wrong direction with an 80% dissatisfaction rate
  • Enables racial divisiveness and the shooting of police officers in the U.S. 
  • Has dozens of opposition members show up in murder-suicides? 

If G-d ultimately rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked, then should such candidates be promoted to the be the leader of the free world?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 24, 2016

The Need For Speed

In the gym this morning, I watched Joel Osteen giving his Sunday sermon on the monitor. 

The guy is a genius--always on message, always inspiring hope, always uplifting the masses. 

Today, he spoke about acceleration. 

The idea was that no matter how deeply bad our situation in life (e.g. illness, debt, demoted) and no matter how many months or years it would normally take us to recover or get out of it, G-d can accelerate things so that we are healed, solvent, or promoted tomorrow. 

He didn't say this, but as I understand it, G-d is above time and space, and so he can move you faster out of your funk then anyone would normally think.

Osteen gave the analogy of a bow an arrow, and the further back you are pulled--the more pressure and tension you are under in life--then the further and faster, G-d can propel you forward. 

To me it's interesting that when we are enjoying a wonderful moment in life, that we wish time would slow or completely stop, so we could savor the good times that much longer or just "stay in the moment forever."

And at other times, when we are down and suffering, the days of despair and defeat can drag on and on, and it seems like the hours and days just don't pass fast enough...it's almost like torture in that it seem to go on forever. And that is when, we hope and pray for a speedy resolution to whatever ails us--we just want to be free from the problems, the illness, the suffering--and so if only, we could leap forward in time and this "would all be over." 

If you are happy, life is too short.  But if you are in pain and suffering, every moment can be torture.

So if we are worthy, time can magnify and be an accelerant for prolonging the good times and getting out of the bad times (or G-d forbid, it can work in reverse as well--shortening the good times in life and extending out the bad ones). 

Similarly, long life can be a blessing if we are healthy and able to enjoy a real quality of life or it can be grueling for those in pain and suffering. 

My wife told me about this news item from a couple of days ago, where a guy won the lottery, but shortly after was murdered--his life cut short--in a home invasion (this "lucky" guy never got to enjoy his winnings).

G-d who controls time (and space) has quite a lot of leeway to test us or meet out justice--just speed things up or slow things down and the experience and feelings are magnified accordingly. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to spitfirelas)
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September 22, 2015

Yom Kippur, When The Masks Come Off

This mask does not mean that Jews have horns--that is a crappy and evil stereotype, so cut it out. 

Masks are dress-up and pretend, like the way most people behave day-in and day-out. 

People imagine and feign to be what they would like to be or what they want others to believe they are. 

Like when someone is gearing up for a fight, they extend their arms, raise their voices, bob up and down to make themselves appear bigger and more formidable than they really are. 

It's a fake out--but perception is (often) reality. 

Similarly, people may wear clothes, drive cars, or live in big fancy homes that make them look well-to-do, but really it's a great act and all bought on extensive credit (ever hear of 0% down!). 

Others may dream of being seen as smart and the go-to guy for answers, the subject matter expert, or the generally wise person for advice and guidance, but are they really smarter than everyone else or do the degrees plastering the wall like wallpaper or titles like doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, professor, and Rabbi simply often invoke credentials and an air rather than the smarts that should accompany them.

Even parents may pose for loving pictures with their children, seem to dote on them, and act the helicopter parents, but still when it comes to their own busy schedules, they have no real time or attention left for the little ones--because the parents put themselves first. 

It happens all the time, every which way, the authority figure who really abuses their authority rather than lives up to it. 

People are human, weak, fallible--and the show is often a lot better than the characters behind it. 

But that doesn't mean we stop trying to be inside what we know we really should be--more loving, caring, giving, and good people. 

This is the essence of Yom Kippur to me, the Day of Atonement--the day when we shed all our phony masks--and instead we bear out our sins, bend our heads with shame, are sorry for what we have done wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

Yom Kippur is the day when all the masks are off--we cannot hide from G-d Almighty, the all seeing and all knowing.  

On Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement we are inscribed, and on Yom Kippur the book is sealed. 

In Judgement, we may enter the court of heaven with heads still held up high, with the same act that we try to show every day, but on Yom Kippur we leave the court with our heads down and our hands humbly clasped, the sentence meted out for who we really are--based not on pretense, but on our underlying behavior.

A mask covers what is, when the mask is off we are left with who we are--naked before our maker, where all is revealed, and we must account for our actions--good, bad, or even just plain indifferent. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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