The massacre of 11 innocent Jews in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last Sabbath by a hateful, disturbed man is a wake-up call for everyone who loves freedom. I attended my own synagogue that morning and experienced a wonderful Bar Mitzvah where the dvar, taught by the thirteen-year-old, was about intelligent disobedience and how Abraham had failed his test by God when agreeing to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Instead of Abraham using his critical thinking skills and following his heart and his conscience, he was prepared to offer his son as a sacrifice because God had told him to do so. The Torah says that only when Abraham lifted his eyes did he realize there was a ram (I am against ritual animal sacrifice by the way) that was to be offered. I must add that most traditional interpretations used by Jews, Christians, and Muslims use this story to teach people to be blindly obedient and extol Abraham’s blind faith. (This story was used by the Moon cult leaders to convince me to throw out over 400 original poems I had written. This is something I deeply regret, to this day, and I believe my creativity and my uniqueness as a human being is expressed in the creative arts.)
My work of 42 years, since being deprogrammed out of a fascist, authoritarian anti-semitic cult (Moonies), gives me a unique perspective on current events in America and throughout the world. I was raised in Flushing Queens, New York in a conservative Jewish home and became a Bar Mitzvah the day after the Six-Day War in Israel. We lit Shabbat candles and kept a kosher household. I went to Israel to help do an archeological dig at the Biblical city of Beersheva. Yet, at age nineteen, I was deceptively recruited by women posing to be students, claiming they were not part of a religious group, and within weeks was indoctrinated to believe that Sun Myung Moon was the Messiah, that the Jews failed their mission to follow Jesus, and that Moon was now fulfilling Jesus’s failed mission. I dropped out of college and was trained to be a leader, in order to take over the world and destroy Satanic democracy. I believed that a theocracy was needed to rule the world. That everyone would be speaking Korean when that day happened. All disbelievers would be killed and would be “saved” later in the spirit world. How could an intelligent, educated person be programmed to disconnect from his conscience and from his analytic, critical-thinking, anti-authoritarian mind? That is what my three books, this website, and my social media are about. I am not alone. There are millions of people who have realized that they were operating out of a very small worldview filled with hate, devoid of love, and woke up.
I am of the strong opinion that fighting hate with hate will only only make the problem worse. Buying more guns to kill anti-semitic neo-nazis and holocaust deniers will only make them stronger, not weaker, and will cause people to descend further into darkness. Name-calling and treating others with violence will not make the world safer for our children.
What is needed is for all citizens around the world to educate themselves about the field of social psychology, hypnosis, and influence psychology. Learning will help protect ourselves and our loved ones and it will give us the tools to correctly identify what is really going on. It is a fact that human beings can be persuaded to adopt beliefs and participate in actions contrary to who they fundamentally are. While it is true that there are risk factors that make some people more susceptible, such as insecure attachment, high suggestibility, high compliance, high hypnotizability to name a few, everyone is situationally vulnerable during their lives. These heightened moments of vulnerability include the ages of 17-25 when people are forming an adult identity, the death of a loved one, trauma, a break-up of an important relationship, leaving a destructive cult, moving to a new city, state or country, and others. The universal vulnerability is believing incorrectly that you are invulnerable to undue influence (otherwise called mind control). Not learning how the mind works, along with how influencers can disrupt your mind and infiltrate and program it, is the greatest vulnerability.
Former members of extremist groups who have taken the time to educate themselves and heal themselves are our greatest asset to combat mind controllers worldwide. I wrote a blog about my friend Arno Michaelis who was a former neo-nazi who works tirelessly to help others exit this cult. I did a video interview with Swedish former white supremacist Robert Örell who does the same in Europe. My Youtube channel has a playlist of a number of important videos on violent extremism.
My call to action is for former members of destructive cults to educate themselves and begin to talk to people they know. Do as much as makes sense. Many have websites, videos, blogs, and some do public speaking and training. The Open Minds Foundation has an excellent website aimed at prevention education developed by my friend Jon Atack, a former Scientologist. He has written a very good short book called Opening Minds. Jon tells me he is preparing a new release of the book in the near future with a new cover and updated material.
Also, the world needs independent investigative journalists who are dedicated to fact-finding and who will not be threatened by lawsuits from wealthy criminals and destructive cults. I would like to see Congress mandate $1 donated per American per year to an independent entity to fund this effort. If you are not already familiar with the International Consortium of Independent Journalists, please check them out. In addition, funding should be made to an international organization of lawyers willing to defend these journalists from harassment lawsuits.
Additionally, we need a dedicated online group of people. They would be educated in understanding how to empower people to think for themselves, online 24 hours a day. They would respectfully and persuasively, on all Internet platforms, interact with those who engage in hate speech of any kind. This includes the right, left, or any ideologically totalist position. I have been sharing my approach to helping people in my books, particularly Freedom of Mind.
Respectful, intelligent, strategic engagement is what is called for. Of course, funding for such an endeavor would be needed to bring it to scale, but it is doable. In fact, it is a must if we wish to counter the uses of influence techniques to further polarize people. Hate speech of any kind and from any ideological perspective is the problem. Learning to better understand another’s perspective, along with loving, compassionate and respectful engagement, does work!
About the Author:
Steven Hassan M.Ed. LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional. Steven Hassan has published 4 books about cults. His first book, which came out in 1988 under the title Combatting Cult Mind Control, was updated and re-released in 2015 as Combating Cult Mind Control. Chapter 2, My life in the Unification Church has been placed for free on this web site. This book is available as an audiobook as well as on kindle.
Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives. Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members. The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.
Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.
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