Why are you asking kiddo?
I heard that a rocket fell near your sister’s house in Israel. That’s scary.
Yes kid, it is very troubling.
Who would do such a thing? Why do they want to hurt people?
People who think it is the right thing to do.
How trying to kill people be the right thing to do?
That’s a hard question to answer, but I’ll try.
You see, we humans have this machine in our heads called the human brain. It has what is called consciousness, awareness and free will.
We get to know the world and choose our actions consciously every second of our lives. And that is not easy.
Right. Sometimes I think of how simple our dog’s life is. No homework – just eat, drink and play.
Right. Simple, yet limited. We get to experience so much more. But, as I said, it is hard.
In order to make decisions every minute of our lives, small to big, we need this machine to have some kind of an operating system.
Like a computer? Something like Windows?
Yes, something that will interpret reality for us and guide us on which alternatives to choose. Something to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.
That is what we call philosophy. People call it in many different names – values, religion, way of life, beliefs, morality. etc.
We are born without any philosophy. Tabula Rasa, which means a clean slate.
We only have survival instincts guiding us to stay alive. Telling us that living is our highest value.
But then the mind takes over.
Influenced by our environment, our parents, our teachers, and everyone around us, we define for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. We learn to like or despise things. In a normal society, you learn that respecting other people’s rights for life and freedom is good and that killing and stealing are bad.
But the truth is that the human mind is so flexible and programmable, we can burn any type of philosophy into it. As awful as it may sound, a person can be taught that killing is good.
You can teach a person any idea, no matter how detached it is from reality. Look, most of the world still believes in supernatural forces that they never saw any proof of. Gods, prophets, food falling from the sky, men walking on water, reincarnations – you name it.
Our mind can invent anything and truly believe it is reality.
You’re right dad. People believe in weird stuff. You won’t believe things kids make up in school.
Wait till they grow up…
But anyhow, with this capacity to run on any kind of philosophy or morality, many people go in wrong directions. Radical Islamists, for instance, believe that it is good to eliminate non-Islamists because god said so. So for them, killing Jews in Israel is a positive thing. So positive, that god will actually reward them when they die. That’s a pretty strong thing to believe in if you believe in eternal afterlife.
That is so twisted.
It is. It is a twisted view from what truly is good for man and for his life here on earth.
But my point is, that once a person has this philosophy ingrained into his head – there is no effective way to change it but to continuously have him face the consequences of his twisted view of reality.
The German Nazis, Religious Extremists and other mystics who’ve developed philosophies detached from reality, are very dangerous and have to be stopped or else they will continuously drive to fulfill what they think is right and moral. Some claim that god told them what is right, some believe that it is the right thing for society or their race – it doesn’t matter – they will act like programmed machines, because this is how the human mind operates. We all act on what we believe is right.
So you are saying that Israel can’t make peace with the Islamic countries around it?
Not right now. Not until those societies will grow out of the primitive philosophies of Islam or other religious and collectivist views. Some people in Israel are sabotaging peace as well because they too hold extreme religious views that are just as bad.
So what should Israel do till then?
Fight hard. Fight with sheer determination and with no empathy for people holding deadly philosophies in their heads. If we do anything else – they will hurt us. The human history is filled with sad, deadly examples.
What about their children? Should we fight them as well?
No, we try as hard as we can not to hurt innocent people, but we should always have a clear set of priorities – our safety comes first. We shouldn’t fight anyone who sincerely wants to live in peace and with respect to individual and property rights. Those should be allowed to live freely in our free society – maybe by giving those who chose this path the reward of freedom, will show the others that there is a better alternative.
But as long as someone is out to destroy you and your way of life – you fight them as hard as possible because they are the most dangerous animal on this planet.
Not an easy option, ha dad?
No. It is not, but there is no other option. Some people on the left fantasize about fake alternatives which some time turn out to be costly.
But the values of most people in Israel is the core of its strength – reason, freedom and human rights. As long as we keep those – Israel and every other peace-seeking society, will be safe.
I hope so dad.
I know so kid.
Good night dad.
Good night my dearest.
Why are you asking kid?
Most of my friends in class think it is the best thing you can be.
So, here is what I think:
First, choosing a profession and a career is a serious thing. You have to know exactly what you want to do in life. You are going to spend most of your life working, and it can either be a boring drag, waiting for workdays to end so you can go back home, or it can be a long-lasting adventure with you pursuing something that you can’t get enough of.
It is the difference between an awesome life and an average one. And most people lead an average life because they are afraid.
Afraid of what Dad?
Afraid of fear. Afraid of risk and uncertainty. They are trying to make life as predictable and safe as possible, and by that taking all the fun out of it. Think about the people and characters that you admire. For instance, what is the common denominator of all the super heroes you like so much besides their powers? What kind of life are they leading?
Are they taking risks? Do they follow their passions?
Yes, they do.
So, you see? This is what I wish for – to be a super hero! in whatever field of life it might be.
Thanks, Dad. And what about being the president?
It depends on what being a president means. If you read what our founding fathers meant, it was about managing the army, our foreign affairs and protecting our rights. But today it means something very different.
Let me ask you this first – what makes you proud of yourself?
I don’t know, maybe when I succeed in doing something?
That’s true. Trying something and succeeding, getting a positive feedback from reality and other people makes you proud of yourself. It tells you are competent, that you can deal with life and do even greater things.
Look around you. See this bed, the light, your desk, the laptop on it, your shoes, your toys?
Yes, what about them?
Someone made them. Someone thought, designed and built them so we can buy and use them. Those people created something. So how do you think it made them feel?
You got it. But they also got to make money and enjoy other things in life.
So let’s get back to being a president. Why would someone want to be the president or a politician now days?
To pass laws and manage the country?
True, but what is the reason they want to do it?
Make everyone’s life better?
Right, but the question is: CAN they and SHOULD they? Because you’ll agree with me that you don’t want to choose a career in which you are doomed to fail. Right?
I believe that pursuing a career for the “greater good” can lead to something VERY wrong.
I know it is the opposite of what they teach you in school, but that it the truth because this is how our mind and emotions work. Doing great for you and society is a little more complex than what people think.
That sounds strange Dad. What is wrong with wanting to help others?
There is nothing wrong with that.
The question is how do you REALLY help others. How do you ACTUALLY make their lives better.
These days, politicians, including the president, are trying to simplify those questions by telling us that we should just do things for others. Pay taxes, serve our communities, help the poor, the sick, the unemployed, the environment, and even the polar bears. Their equation is simple: Someone needs something, that means you need to help.
But that is NOT how things work. This is a recipe for disaster.
Why? What’s wrong with just giving to other people?
Let’s think about it logically.
If you want to help someone, you need to give them something.
If you need to give them something, you have to produce it or earn it.
If you need to produce something, you need to think and act.
If you want to think and act, you need motivation and interest – or otherwise you are enslaved to do something you didn’t choose to do.
If you need motivation and interest, you need to have some kind of passion or desire to do it, assuming you are a free man and not living in a society where they tell you what you need to be doing for society like in North Korea, Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.
Where does passion and desire to do something come from?
From the things that you like to do.
Let me repeat what you just said. “the things the YOU, LIKE to do”. You didn’t say, what OTHER people need me to do. You said, what I LIKE to do. And that is a very selfish, self-centered thing to say… but it is the essence of what I am saying.
When YOU choose what you want to do in life selfishly, you end up creating something valuable that other people can use, making their lives better. The cars, houses, food in the stores, clothes – all were made by someone who CHOSE to do it for his OWN good, for his OWN self-interest, and by trading in a free market, he could then sell it and make everybody’s life better including his own.
That is the system that creates wealth and that lifts us all from being poor.
If you don’t follow this sequence – you end up with confusion, contradictions and unproductive, forceful laws. With politicians telling you what to do, how to do it, risking the subtle nature and the source of human productivity, and with poor people not being able to lift and motivate themselves out of poverty by hard work, because they get used to the idea that someone is obligated to help them.
But what about the sick people that cannot work?
Again, it seems like this begs a straightforward answer – right? Let the government take a little from each of us and take care of the sick, the old and handicapped.
But this NOT the role of government, because governments use force and force should be used only against force and not to motivate you to help. It is a fact that people want and do help WITHOUT anyone forcing them.
Really? Are you sure that people will help other people if no one forced them to?
Yes, and they did before we had governments in a much more efficient way.
What will motivate them to help?
Let me answer with a tough question. Did you ever see a hurt animal?
Yes. I did. I saw a squirrel that was hit by a car.
And what did you feel when you saw it?
Bad. I felt bad for it.
So what do you think you will feel if you saw a human getting hurt?
I would feel VERY bad. Much more that I would feel for the squirrel.
Why would you feel so bad?
Because it is a human being.
Exactly. We, by our nature, care for other members of our own species and we will help them as much as we can so they don’t suffer. We care about people because they make OUR lives so much better and we would like to see them prosper. There are people who do not care for other people at all, but most of us would like to live among other people and not on a secluded island.
If we had government step out from the role of forcing us to help each other, we would see a world of private charity that will funnel resources to the right people in the RIGHT way.
So let me give you the bottom-line.
You should focus on what YOU want to do in life and what will make YOUR life better. If you do that rationally, you will produce, make money, take care of yourself, your loved ones and anyone else that you care about. You might be so successful that you will be giving away a lot of money like many rich people do, because there is so much you need, and in the end of the day you do it for YOURSELF and YOUR CREATIVE MIND – not the money. Because money doesn’t buy you happiness – pursuing your values, including charity, will make you happy. And the truth is, that if we will be left alone by government to produce and take care of each other – everybody will be much better off.
So I don’t recommend being the president. I recommend choosing a real productive career.
Hmm… I didn’t think about it that way. Besides, I want to build an ice-cream company that makes the best ice-cream in the world. Better than the one we had in Italy!
You see? Without this passion of yours, how will people enjoy better ice-cream in the future?
They’ll just have to wait till I get older.
And if you want to get older, you need to sleep.
Good night Dad.
Good night Ben.
My name isn’t Ben.
You’ll get it eventually. Sweet dreams.
Let me ask you this – if a lion kills a zebra in the wild, will it go to jail?
“No Dad, that’s crazy. Lions eat zebras, they do it to survive.”
“So the zebra doesn’t have the right to live?”
“I guess not… wait a minute, actually, why doesn’t it have the right to live?”
First, we have to define what rights are.
Rights are a concept that people came up with to allow us to live in a civilize society. Rights are there to protect values– things that are most important to us, like living, being free and trying to be happy.
The only reason we have the right to live is that it is the highest value a human being can hold. Without it, a person does not exist and cannot have any other value. This is why the right to live comes first and is the most important one. Other values we need in order to live a human life are freedom and property. Animals do not have those rights – we put them in cages in zoos and they don’t own anything.
So now, back to your question – why is it okay to kill animals?
First, I don’t believe it is okay to kill an animal without a reason. It is a question of values. For instance, you should ask your self: what are the values that you are pursuing or contradicting when you eat a steak?
1. You are having a good meal and you enjoy it. It helps you to survive and it might even make you happy as you enjoy the taste of the steak.
2. You are promoting animal slaughter because you are consuming the steak. That contradicts your value of being kind to other living creatures.
So what should you do? eat the steak and enjoy it, or avoid buying steaks and fight against cattle slaughter?
“I really do like steaks…”
And that is perfectly fine. So you just answered the question – it is okay to kill other animals if the killing is serving a higher value like surviving, being happy and enjoying life. If you I told you that dog meat is tasty as well – would you eat a dog?
“Never! that’s so gross”
Don’t say never – if the dog meat was the only thing you can eat, at some point you will choose to eat it as the value of survival will become relevant. This value is higher than your value of dogs, their companionship and what they represent to you.
“hmm, so everything is about what values are more important to me?”
Basically, yes. As long as you don’t violate rights of other people.
And here is the most important point here – when you’re not sure what is the right thing to do, think about what values are behind the different options you are considering. Think about what values are more important to you and then the decision will become easier. Not always, but usually this helps.
“Give me an example”
So, I was just debating if to buy myself a new car or save the money for other things like my retirement. What do you think are the two values that are represented here?
“You want to enjoy a new car, but you also want to make sure you have enough money when you’re old”
Right. It’s not an easy decision. But I decided to go ahead and buy the car, because I decided that in this case the value of enjoying the new car is more important than the additional money I will have when I am old. And besides, I thought that since you are so smart, you’ll surely become so rich that I shouldn’t worry anyway…
“Hey, that’s not fair”
Just kidding. Go to sleep, it’s getting late. I love you so much. You are my highest value.
“You’re mine too”