A road by any other name will lead to a different destination.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

It’s been over a decade, but I still remember reading a delightful and refreshing account of a high school commencement ceremony, which I’ll summarize here:

Joe Biden’s presidential victory is cause for hope and dismay, but not for the reasons most people think.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

From the outset of his candidacy in 2016, no one doubted that Donald Trump, if elected, would be a president like no other. It’s also no surprise that the nation has been cheering, mourning, and rebelling against November’s election results which will, barring unexpected court rulings, dispatch President Trump from the White House on January 20.

But amidst the one-sided reportage from both right and left, the paradox of his reign as Chief Executive has been lost in the haze of idol-worship on one side and Trump Derangement Syndrome on the other.

What is — or should be — undeniable…

Resist the subversion of darkness in the name of enlightenment.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

23 centuries ago, the army of Alexander the Great marched into Jerusalem. The ensuing occupation of the Jewish capital proceeded, at the outset, with unexpected smoothness and goodwill.

The Greeks had brought to the world the first secular culture aspiring to more than wealth, lust, and power. Guided by pure aestheticism, Greek art, architecture, and drama demonstrated an affinity for abstract pursuits and singular respect for cerebral engagement. The result was an asynchrony of mutual admiration and appreciation between the Jews and their new masters.

But the veneer of intellectual integrity projected by Greek culture was a sham. Socrates, the…

If we want to live in a more equitable society, we have to confront the reality of systemic otherism.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Molly Belle on Unsplash

Every spring, on the first night of Passover, Jewish families all over the world gather around the dining room table to reenact and reexperience the exodus from Egypt. This year will mark the 3,333rd anniversary of the Jews’ emancipation from slavery.

According to rabbinic tradition, the Jews were enslaved for 116 of the 210 years they dwelled in Egypt. And for the final 86 years, they were subjected to backbreaking, spirit-breaking, soul-crushing labor.

Even after the exodus, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

It’s time we embrace the better angels of our nature.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ashton Bingham on Unsplash

To the American people:

Thank you for the honor of electing me to serve as your president.

The last year has battered us with a storm of pandemic and civil violence that none of us foresaw, a tempest that contributed to an ugly and dispiriting election campaign. The hardships and challenges we’ve faced have forced us to confront problems that for too long we’ve tried to ignore. Now we have an opportunity not to point fingers and lay blame, but to seek enduring solutions.

To you, the members of my party, I say: Do not look at these election results…

Why the story of the Tower of Babel is more relevant now than ever.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by J W on Unsplash

From 1931 to 1972, the Empire State Building over-towered every other building in the world. Today, it falls 500 feet short of its neighbor at One World Trade Center. And it doesn’t rise to even half the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands 2717 feet nearer the heavens.

Man’s obsession with monuments to his own architectural prowess is nothing new. According to Jewish tradition, it was 3785 years ago that human beings undertook the first such enterprise — an attempt to literally touch the sky in a place known as Babel.

Comprising only nine scriptural verses, the story of…

Does duty trump apathy when faced with choices we can’t abide?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Most of us have probably pondered this question at one time or another. In presidential elections, we may live in states where the results are a foregone conclusion — no matter how we vote, our vote is not going to change the outcome.

Even in smaller elections, the chances of one vote making a difference are only slightly better than getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery. Has it happened? Sure it has. A few times. But less than once in a dozen blue moons, and never in an election with more than 25,000 voters.

What the World Values Survey Association could have learned from the Feast of Tabernacles

Image for post
Image for post

Originally published in 2008 in Jewish World Review

Citizens of Denmark are the happiest people in the world. Puerto Ricans are second, followed by people in Colombia. Residents of the United States rank 16th.

These are the conclusions of the World Values Survey (WVS), published this past July in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. “Researchers measured happiness [in 97 nations] by simply asking people how happy they were, and how satisfied they were with their lives as a whole.”

Based upon survey results, researchers concluded that happiness derives from increased personal freedom, prosperity, and social tolerance. …

How movable type transformed the secular and spiritual worlds

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mark Pellegrini via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg#/media/File:Gutenberg_Bible.jpg

Two decades ago, when Biography.com presented its list of the 100 most influential people of the last millennium, their choice for the Number 1 position was indisputable. By introducing the Western world to movable type, Johannes Gutenberg inaugurated the rapid expansion of knowledge that produced the Renaissance and eventually made literacy the rule rather than the exception.

It’s a sad footnote to history that Gutenberg possessed far more mechanical savvy than business acumen. He died penniless, failing to capitalize upon his own innovation.

A happier footnote is the contribution Gutenberg’s innovation made to Jewish culture and scholarship.

Profiles in leadership guaranteed to enrage Democrats and Republicans alike.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

Everyone hates an egomaniac. The tell-tale symptoms of narcissistic self-absorption, preening superiority, braggadocio, and indifference to others make us want to run screaming for the hills.

But can ego ever be a good thing?

Of course, it can. Ego motivates us to look after our own best interests. Ego also drives us to leave our mark on the world we live in.

So what makes ego become toxic? Simply this: the skewed perception of where we believe our best interests lie and what kind of mark we want to leave behind.

It is the clarity or the distortion of perception…

Yonason Goldson

Ethics keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, recovered hitchhiker, former newspaper columnist, retired high school teacher, and community rabbi at yonasongoldson.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store