Daniel Roth Life Story
My name is Daniel Roth. You can call me Dani. I was born in Jerusalem on October 14th, 1979. A few hours after the celebrations of the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah means Rejoicing with the Torah. Rejoicing with the art of the Jewish story. Rejoicing with a story that for thousands of years has brought prophecies of world peace. This day, Simchat Torah, is a happy day of celebration and singing. The euphoric energy that has surrounded this day over many thousands of years was transferred to me when I was born.
My mother was also born in Jerusalem. My grandparents on my mother’s side are of Persian descent. They are from the Cohen family. The Rabbinical lineage of the Cohen family. Dating back to the times of ancient Babylon. From the times of King Solomon and King David. To the Persian empire and Nebuchadnezzar. The Rabbinical lineage of storytellers. Storytellers of the Jewish tradition.
So when my mother tells me stories about what I was like when I was a young child, she says I used to sing songs and celebrate the moment. I would clap my hands when guests arrived and generally made everyone around me happy. Indeed, I embodied the joyful tradition of this day.
Most of my childhood was happy. I lived on a Kibbutz when I was 9. A Kibbutz, for those who don’t know, is a community, a socialist commune where families live together and share everything. For me, this was perfection. I was one of 20 kids living in a house together sleeping four per room. We used to wake up in the morning together, get ready, and head to class in the same house. It was called ‘the children’s house’ or Beit Yeladim in Hebrew. After class we would all play together, building sand castles and treehouses and putting on performances in front of the entire community. Those were the best years of my childhood.
Then when I was 11, my dad, who is a biochemist, got a job in Long Island, NY and our family moved to Plainview and then Dix Hills, New York, on Long Island. Even though my dad was already an American citizen even before I was born, this was a huge shift for me, moving from an intimate socialist community to the capitalist suburbs of Long Island, NY. I was mostly curious and remember being enthralled by limitless American Tropicana orange juice and big cartons of chocolate milk with American cereal and impressive glossy TV ads, cooking shows, and diamonds on QVC being sold by well dressed, highly groomed women.
And then something changed when I was a teen. My older brother, who himself wasn’t having an easy time adjusting to the new culture, started beating me up to take out his aggression on me, especially if I was singing or expressing joy. I felt that my ability to experience happiness was stripped away by how much aggression was directed towards me. The combination of being the new kid in school, learning a new language (English) and culture, and receiving violent aggression from my brother caused me to become introverted. I lost my joy. I lost my inner child self. I stopped singing. I lost my connection to the day I was born.
Fast forward to me in my thirties, thanks to the help of a very talented therapist (shout out to good therapists), I started trying to make sense of my life and the source of the aggression that I received. To understand the origins, I started tracking it all the way back to World War II.
My dad was born in Germany. His father, my grandfather, was born in Poland. My grandfather was taken to Auschwitz, a labor and death camp, because he was Jewish. He had a wife and two children. They were all killed by the Nazis.
When my grandfather arrived at Auschwitz, he became a forced laborer. The conditions there were so terrible, the lack of food and the working conditions were so tough, that he realized he’d only have six months or so to make it. So you know what he did? He went to the camp’s internal mini-train tracks, lay his left hand on the tracks, and let the train run over his fingers. Several fingers broke. He then went to the Nazis and he said, look, I can’t do physical work anymore, but I’m a tailor and know how to sew. And they transferred him to a sewing section.
That’s what he had to do to survive.
When World War II was over and the Holocaust ended, he met my grandmother.
My grandfather didn’t talk about his story. He mostly held it inside. All of the aggression, he held it inside. Bottled up aggression. Bottled up fear. Bottled up sadness. He held it all inside. And because he held it inside, he transferred it to the next generation, my father. And my father, he also wasn’t too expressive. And because he held his emotions inside, he transferred them to my older brother. And my older brother, who also didn’t have an easy time acclimating, took this accumulated aggression out on me.
Have you thought about your own lineage and the aggression that has been passed down to you?
How has it impacted you? Held you back? What have you learned about it?
And me, what about me. I received all of this aggression. Lost all of my joy. I lost the connection to the day that I was born.
So, in this state I remained through my teens, through college, through my twenties and thirties–I’d forgotten that I used to sing. I spent a lot of time thinking. I spent years thinking and processing. Collecting information about the world. I went to college and I majored in biology. I studied physics and chemistry. I was trying to figure out how the world works.
My first job out of college was in private equity investments. I cared about being “successful” and “getting a good job.” I worked for a company called Commonfund. We managed $30 billion. I learned how big money flows around in this country. But I didn’t feel like I fit in. One year into it, after a few sleepless nights, I went into work with tears in my eyes. I decided to approach the CEO of my company. She asked me, “What’s happening?”
This was one of the most embarrassing days for me. Can you imagine? I’m wearing a suit at a private equity investments office in Connecticut, with tears in my eyes, and one of the Managing Directors is looking at me thinking, “what’s wrong with this guy?”
I sat down with the CEO with tears in my eyes. I said to her, “I thought it was all about money…but my mission in life is peace in the Middle East and world peace.” She asked me: “Was your family involved or hurt in the Middle East?” And I said ‘no and yes, I mean, not really.’ The story was too complicated to respond with a simple yes or no, but I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to go into any detail. Still, I felt heard and seen by her, and because I wanted her to be proud of me, I focused on my work as an analyst.
A few years later, I was introduced to a family friend, and I was tremendously excited about working with him. He had started a peace initiative called Bridging The Rift, a project in cooperation with King Abdullah of Jordan and the then-Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. The initiative was to create a biological research center with Stanford and Cornell that would bring together Arabs and Israelis from the region to collaborate.
In addition, he had started a company providing government intelligence solutions. I was involved in secret missions to create machine intelligence solutions for the purpose of security–security for the purpose of peace. A simple example of this is sensor fusion software, which uses a camera and a radar to generate a simple image of what’s happening. This was back in 2006. We were invited by the King of Abu Dhabi and worked in collaboration with the former Commander of US Central Command, Tommy Franks, and the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries. Years later, this story came out.
While immersed in this peace-building and government intelligence project, late one night I had another significant insight. In my New York City apartment, I became present to the meaning of my given name, Daniel – the meaning of the name, and the meaning of its frequency – the vibrations of the sound Daniel. The meaning of the name Daniel is “God is my judge.”
And it reminded me that when I was six years old in Jerusalem, I had a dream. I dreamed of a big tree, with animals, monkeys, birds and children playing, laughing and throwing bananas and oranges. It was a Garden of Eden. A beautiful, harmonious dream.
When I woke from this dream, I told my mom about it in detail, and she was so excited! She said whaaaaaaat!? She couldn’t believe it. And I was surprised that she was so excited, and asked her ‘what is it?’ And she said – just today, I taught Daniel’s dream from ‘The Book of Daniel’ in class. My mom, who was a biblical studies teacher at a high school in Jerusalem, taught Daniel’s dream from the Book of Daniel – and in this dream, Daniel foretold the changes that were going to happen in the world. My mom’s emotional excitement around this synchronicity – that her son, Daniel, would dream of a Garden of Eden, of harmony, on the same day that she taught this dream in her class, sent my spirit off on a mission to create a Garden of Eden, a Utopia.
And here I found myself involved in a peace-building initiative working on machine intelligence and government intelligence with King Abdullah of Jordan, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Tommy Franks, former head of US Central Command, and Jack Kemp, former Vice Presidential Candidate. I was 27 years old. With tears in my eyes, I remembered this dream I had when I was six years old, which was so serendipitously connected to the story of Daniel’s dream in the Old Testament, and this dream was coming true.
I had a deep feeling in my heart that my dream of a utopian Garden of Eden was not only something to aspire to, but that it was actually possible – that it was in fact humanity’s destiny. World Peace. I still feel this to be true.
The same World Peace the Chinese talk about. The same World Peace Buddhists talk about. The same World Peace Islam talks about. The root of the word Islam, Salaam, means peace. The same peace in both the Old and New Testament.
What does peace mean? What do I mean when I use this word? The literal definition of peace is freedom from disturbance; tranquility. The absence of war. My definition of peace is effortless joy, freedom of expression and celebration. What does peace mean for you?
I am a middle child. Middle children are known to be peacemakers. I was also born a Libra. Libras are also known to be peacemakers. I feel like my mission in life is to help guide humanity towards world peace. I want to be a teacher, a guide – to assist in this process.
After working in Government Intelligence, I became fascinated with the concept of the Technological Singularity by Ray Kurzweil. This future hypothesis tells the story of technology advancing rapidly and accelerating humanity towards a point, around 2045, where man and machine merge and the universe wakes up – an optimistic story. I was fascinated by this theory.
Another theory of the future of humanity told a pessimistic story of artificial intelligence becoming smarter than humans – and that this was a risk for humanity. Ultimately, the purpose of technology was to help create peace and unity, and to help humans become the people they wish to become.
To see my dream come to life, I believe that we are each like cells in a giant human superorganism. Each of us has a unique mission in life, a unique function to perform so that the entire superorganism operates in harmony, just like the specialized cells in our bodies.
This is something I felt while participating in the annual festival Burning Man, held in Black Rock City, Nevada. I’ve been to Burning Man six times. In my first Burning Man in 2012, while walking towards the man burn for the first time, I felt like a small part of a big herd. I felt like an ant being pulled into this collective ritual of burning an effigy. This feeling of being a small part of 70,000 people, in sync, in harmony, beautifully organized, forever changed my worldview. It felt so good to feel so small yet to be part of this powerful beautiful ritual.
I felt that every cell in my body knew what to do. To continue walking, to be a part of it. And everyone around me also knew what to do. It felt like destiny.
And I thought wow, I want to come back here every year for the rest of my life. And I also thought, wow, if we can do this here, 70,000 of us, imagine what we can do if we scale this movement up to include the rest of the world.
So in my third Burning Man experience, I couldn’t contain myself. During the ritual of the man burn, my body was full of energy, inspiration, and joy. And at that point I knew for sure that this here is what we need to do. If we can have 70,000 people unite together in harmony for a week, perhaps we can have 7 billion people come together for eternity.
We can go from 70,000 to 700,000. From 700,000 to 7 million. From 7 million to 700 million. And so on. With more healing, with better technology, with more unity, and with time, we can unite one billion people. And eventually unite all of humanity.
If we can do this in 2019, then by 2045, I believe it is possible to rally billions of citizens of the Earth for a world peace ceremony celebrating the arts, cultures, and spiritual traditions of every person on earth. A magnificent orchestration of the finest acts mankind has ever dreamt of. Together with China, the United States, Facebook, Google, Apple and every living being on earth. A grand celebration of unity, orchestrated and guided by technology. Technology can help guide humans to make choices that are good for us. Automation will free up human energy, imagination, and time, allowing us to deepen our connections to one another and to focus on things that matter.
A perpetual celebration where each of us can play any role we want. Each of us can be a leader, an artist, a peasant, whatever we wish.
To do this, each of us must fulfill our destiny. You must live your purpose, your dream life. And you will discover how your life story is connected to all other stories, and we will unite together in one human story.
So think about your life story and how it might contribute to unity and peace. You are playing a role in the evolution of the human species. When you realize this, you can choose to be active, passive, or neutral. Timid or brave. Resigned or inspired. When you make up your mind to play an active role, your sense of self changes, and so does the world. Who you are to other people changes.
So, how do you embrace and step into your role in the evolution of the human species?
First, ask yourself a few questions:
- What is the pain, suffering and trauma that I’ve experienced?
- How am I better or more capable of serving and helping because of my experiences?
- What are the challenges and obstacles that I have overcome and how have they made me stronger?
- What are my gifts? How can I contribute?
- How do I bring joy and peace to others?
When we understand that our story and everything that has happened to us has gotten us to this place and made us who we are, we’re more capable of having compassion for ourselves and for the people who may have wronged us.
Compassion is at the heart of the story of humanity. It is how we will achieve peace and unity.
If we are able to get together every four years for the Olympics, an international competition acknowledged by every country on earth, then we can get together in international communion, in celebration of joy, of our shared humanity, of every culture and spiritual tradition, in an artistic union dreamed up by our collective imagination.
I know we can do it. I believe this is humanity’s destiny.