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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 15, 2010 / 3 Tamuz 5770

When Good People Do Bad Things

By Dennis Prager





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Almost 30 years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," a powerful book that propelled him to national and international renown. Though we have differed on some important theological matters, many of the book's insights have been indispensable to me in understanding God and suffering.

Today, we need another book that uses the words of Rabbi Kushner's classic work, but addresses an entirely different issue: When Good People Do Bad Things.

We need such a book because of the disheartening fact that much, perhaps even most, evil does not emanate from the bad parts of human nature but from the good parts.

Most evil is not committed as a result of unbridled lust or greed. And the sadistic monster who revels in inflicting excruciating pain on other people is relatively rare.

Good intentions cause most of the world's great evils.

Take communism, for example. The greatest mass-murdering ideology in history, the greatest destroyer of elementary human rights, was an ideology supported by many people who believed in moral progress and human equality. It took Stalin's peace pact with Hitler to awaken many Western leftists to how evil communism was. And still, vast numbers of Westerners went on to support Stalin, Mao, Ho, Castro, Guevara or all of them. Were all these Westerners bad people, i.e., people who reveled in the suffering of others? Of course not.

Were all the Koreans who supported Kim Il-Sung bad people? Were all the Russians who wept at Stalin's funeral lovers of torture and mass murder? Of course not.

For that matter, most Germans who voted for Hitler and the Nazis were not voting for gas chambers. More than a few of them were preoccupied with reviving Germany. Contrary to what many people understandably but erroneously believe, Hitler actually played down his anti-Semitism in order to win Germans' votes.

What is the major lesson to be learned from all this?

The major lesson is already noted, but I will restate it in the words of another rabbi who influenced me, the late Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, head of the Conservative rabbinate for many years. In my late 20s, I sought advice from him, and I have never forgotten this piece of wisdom: "Dennis," he said, "I pretty much have my bad inclination ('yetzer hara' was the well-known Hebrew term he used) under control; it's my good inclination ('yetzer hatov') that always gets me into trouble."

When it comes to personal relations and even more so to formulating social policy, intending to do good is largely worthless. Given how much evil has emanated from human idealism, the heart is an awful guide to doing good.

In order to do good personally and in order to support social policies that do good, what humans need even more than a good heart (as beneficial as that can be) is wisdom.

This explains why we are in the morally confused world that I and other columnists document almost every week (and daily in my other life as a radio talk show host). There has been a war on wisdom.

Many of the destructive and foolish ideas of the Baby Boomer generation emanated from the Mother of Foolish Ideas — "You can't trust anyone over 30."

In that one sentence, the 1960s and '70s announced that there was nothing to be learned about goodness or about life — it was enough to rely on one's terrific heart for insights.

Western universities have an abundance of people of intellect, people with a vast repository of knowledge and people who mean well. Yet, the Western university is a moral wasteland. Why? Because it lacks wisdom. The university relies on the good intentions of its professors, not on the accumulated wisdom of the past, for answers to society's problems. Thus, the Founding Fathers have little to teach us (they were rich, white men and often slaveholders); the Constitution is what we today say it is (which means it is anything a person with good intentions wants it to be); and the Bible is superstitious nonsense at best, pernicious nonsense at worst.

Instead of wrestling with the great ideas of those who lived before them, the university is dominated by people who are convinced that all one needs to know achieve good is to love equality and social justice, and to regard reliance on the Bible, Judeo-Christian values and the American Founders' values as an indication of moral and intellectual weakness.

Having grown up in religious schools (Jewish), I knew early in life that my heart was an awful guide to what is right, that the human being is essentially morally flawed and human nature weak, and that the greatest moral ideas preceded my birth. By the time they graduate, most Americans who studied at traditional Jewish and Christian high schools have more wisdom (though, of course, less knowledge) than many professors, artists and editorial page writers.

The wise — as opposed to most of the highly educated — know, among many other things, that when you give people something for nothing, you produce ungrateful people; that when you obscure the differences between men and women, you end up with many aimless men and angry women; that when you give children "self-esteem" without their earning it, you produce narcissists who enter adulthood incapable of handling life; that if you do not destroy evil, it will proliferate; and that if you are kind to the cruel, you will cruel to the kind.

If you really want good to prevail, the key is wisdom, not the heart. That's why we have a minimum voting age. And that's why we have a minimum age for running for public office. We once understood that as good as a young person may be, goodness was not enough to be able to choose society's leaders or to be one.

So, why do good people do bad things? Because they lack wisdom. Without wisdom, you can be nice and kind, but you will not do nearly as much good as your good heart would like you to do.

And you may even do harm.

JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. Click here to comment on this column.


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