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Prologue

The first part of this book will focus on humanity’s state in the 21st century, describing what change is required in our awareness, and why it is needed. But before we do that, let’s review some facts about humankind’s present state, focusing on the situation in Israel. Knowing these facts is important to help us understand the proposed solution to our problems.

In the last 100 years or so, we have made a giant leap in scientific and technological progress, and yet we find ourselves helpless and perplexed in the face of escalating phenomena in many areas. Many of us are dissatisfied with our lives, and there is a growing sense of insecurity, meaninglessness, frustration, and bitterness. These sensations often lead to our using sedatives, drugs and other additions, all serving as substitutes and alternative means of fulfillment.

The plagues of the 21st century are anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that every fourth person will suffer from a mental problem during his or her life [1]. Over the past fifty years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people suffering from depression. The newest finding is that depression appears at younger and younger ages. It is anticipated that by the year 2020, mental ailments, and primarily depression, will be the second most common cause of health problems.

Depression is one of the prime causes of suicide. Each year, more than a million people will take their own lives, and between 10 and 20 million people will attempt it [2]. Suicide attempts in general, and particularly among children and youth, are on a clear upward curve.

The Israeli Ministry of Health declared that in Israel, similar to other Western developed countries, suicides are the second most common cause of death among children and youth [3]. Many among those who work in the health field believe that the suicide phenomenon reflects the overall unhealthy state of society.

In the last decades, drug intake has turned from a marginal phenomenon to a central issue the world over, and today, every level of society is affected by it. Drug abuse among youth is a familiar phenomenon today, and children are introduced to drugs as early in life as elementary school. A 2005 survey conducted by Israel Anti-Drug Authority revealed that compared to past data, there is an alarming amount of drug abuse among young people.

In the U.S., the number of people who confess to using drugs at least once during their lives is approximately 42% of the overall population [4]. In Europe, consumption of cocaine has reached an unsettling record high of 3.5 million users, among which are increasing numbers of highly educated people from the Western part of the continent [5].

Even the family institution is in decline: divorce, alienation, and domestic violence are appearing far more frequently. In Israel, every third couple divorces; in Sweden and in Russia, divorce occurs in 65% of the couples [6]. The Israeli police reported that in 2004, 9,400 new cases were opened against parents abusing their children, compared to 1,000 in 1998. Additionally, in 2004, 200,000 women were classified as victims of domestic violence inflicted by their partners [7].

The poverty report published by the Israeli Social Security in 2006 revealed that expansion of poverty and socioeconomic gaps is continuing. Today, every third child grows up in a poor family, and every fifth family in Israel lives below the poverty line.

The younger generation suffers from an absence of values and ideology, and the education system is helpless and in decline. Violence and juvenile delinquency are on the rise, and 90% of the students report witnessing regular harassment and violence within school premises.

A similar percentage of the teachers admit that they haven’t the means to cope with the violence and insubordination within the education system.

In fact, the intensification of these phenomena is not so disturbing in our eyes because we have grown accustomed to them. In the past, they were considered aberrant, but today they have become the norm. Because we lack the tools to cope with these predicaments, we accept their existence to reduce the suffering they cause us. This is a natural defense mechanism that has developed within us, but it does not mean that things cannot be different, and indeed better than they are now.

–The Editor

[1] World Health Organization, Mental health, Depression, http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/;

WHO, Fact sheet: Mental and neurological disorders http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/en/.

The data were taken from the WHO site, as well as from the site of Israel Ministry of Health, http://www.health.gov.il/download/mental/annual2003/p2-12.pdf.

[2] World Health Organization, Mental health, suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex, http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide//en/Figures_web0604_table.pdf

[3] Dr. Dalia Gilboa, chair of the Inter-Ministry committee for prevention of youth suicide, http://www.health.gov.il/pages/default.asp?maincat=10&catId=75

[4] The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, Fact Sheet, March 2003.

[5] Published June 27, 2006, http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3267779,00.html.

The full report is available at the U.N. web site, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/world_drug_report.html.

[6] Data is taken from http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsWorld.shtm

[7] Publish in a Yedioth Aharonot newspaper article May 14, 2006.

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