By now you should know what I once was, but I’ve moved past that and am nothing like that today. I now have new dreams and aspirations, things that motivate the decisions I make each and every day of my life. My thoughts, my actions, and my words each match my motivations in life, my motivations match what I hope to see come to fruition and what I want to become in life. I have thought long and hard on exactly what it is I want out of life today, who and what I want to be, and the means to accomplish these things. Once I knew these things, I set into motion to match my every action, thought, and word to it, because just eight years ago my life as I know it began and I started to formulate a vision of myself.
Knowing this, the first thing I want to be is a better human towards my fellow human beings. I want to help more people, show more people I care and accept all people for exactly who they are. I have made amazing strides in this area, but no matter how much progress a person makes, there’s always room for improvement. I want to be better and to do better for my fellow humans… period!
Secondly, I want to be a better husband and father to my four kids. I love my wife and my kids with all that I am, I do as much as possible for them and with them to show that I love them. Knowing this, once again there is always room to improve, I can try to be more understanding, spend more time with them and take them more places. I can do more of the little things that help to show them how much they mean to me and my life!
Third, I’d like to help more people and this, in particular, is multifaceted in nature, because there are several ways in which I mean this. One, I own a wellness business and focus on alternative mental health using numerous tools such as, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Stress management, Neurolinguistic programming, cognitive behavioral therapy, strategic life coaching, and am adding much more into the mix all the time. I would like to expand these things to more people, including those who cannot afford services or who can only afford to pay so much. On the other side of me wanting to help more people, I’d like to help more extremists find their out from their movements and deradicalize them and help break down their ideologies and help them reintegrate into society with a new outlook on life-based around peace and unity. This is the work we do with Beyond Barriers and while it isn’t easy work, it is worthwhile to work to help repair the world (Tikkun Olam).
Fourth, I’d like to finish the conversion process and be a good member of the Jewish community and people, contributing to the rich tapestry of Judaism. I practically live for Shabbat and Saturday Torah study during my week, 3-4 hours a night I am reading, and my home is already set up as a Jewish home. I read incessantly, from the history of both Judaism and reform Judaism to the beliefs and practices, I read with a near obsession to learn. Even if a book has most of the same information as another, perhaps I’ll get a differing viewpoint to digest, or be shown something in a new light, so I read everything I can. I have a Jewish library of books already and while not quite as complete as I’d like, I’m truly off to a great start.
Fifth, I’d like to see some of the writings and videos I do reach a larger audience, as I feel they would go a long way to understanding extremism, from an ex-extremist leader’s perspective. Today the whole of the narrative put forth is “hate hate hate hate,” when in fact the mindset of extremists is not so simple, if it was, that narrative would have created some semblance of change in the world and it has not. To create workable solutions for the problems of extremism, you must first understand the mindset of extremists, otherwise, the work will fail to have any lasting impression. To me, this is important, I don’t make money from my writings nor my videos, nor am I doing it to make a name for myself in any capacity, I am doing it to help others to understand and thus effectively combat extremism and to let former extremists know that they are not alone in this world and that they are not their past.
Sixth, I hope to be a better and more helpful neighbor, though I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and can’t get around very well, I hope to be more helpful to those around me and kinder still. As it says in the Tanakh “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and I will consistently strive to do so and be a better neighbor to those around me.
Seventh, I hope to be a better steward of the Earth, that is to be less wasteful, more mindful of my individual carbon footprint, and to work towards healing the planet itself from manmade foibles and thoughtlessness. I will continuously work towards lessening the impact of my family on our planet and see to it that we do our part in caring for mother Earth.