Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff

Recommended By:
Rabbi Andrue J. Kahn, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York

Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human, has always been ahead of the curve when looking at the trajectory of human society and existence. Team Human sees humanity as an integral part of our ever-unfolding world. It suggests that, simply, our job is to readjust ourselves, and more importantly the systems we have designed, towards functioning as part of a larger whole, rather than dominating that larger whole.

As so many aspects of our current socio-cultural arrangement have come under fire during the past few years, exacerbated considerably by the pandemic, it is clear to many that the ongoing inequity, inequality, and systems of oppression will continue unabated unless groups of people act together to make real change in our society. Rushkoff saw this ahead of time, writing, “We must learn to see the technologically accelerated social, political, and economic chaos ahead of us as an invitation for more willful participation. It’s not a time to condemn the human activity that’s brought us to this point, but to infuse this activity with more human and humane priorities. Otherwise, the technology — or any system of our invention, such as money, agriculture, or religion — ends up overwhelming us, seemingly taking on a life of its own, and forcing us to prioritize its needs and growth over our own.”1

In short, we need a revolution of values: A reorientation of priorities and resources towards humane-ness, rather than an endless growth model rooted in human domination. Team Human lays out an optimistic path forward, and to plan for a future that is brighter for all people. 

Team Human embodies the core essence of the Jewish struggle for liberation and justice in the world. It reminds us that in a world where all peoples are seen as equally contributing to the wellbeing of the world — in a world where we know that our neighbors, be they human, animal, or plant, are essential to the whole — we must take seriously the words of the prophet Isaiah:

קָד֧וֹשׁ ׀ קָד֛וֹשׁ קָד֖וֹשׁ יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת מְלֹ֥א כׇל־הָאָ֖רֶץ כְּבוֹדֽוֹ׃ 

“Holy, holy, holy!

Adonai of Hosts!

God’s presence fills all the earth,”2

Rushkoff’s call towards re-prioritization and rethinking our own place within the world is, itself, a call towards messianic action. This work of a Messianic age was described by Rabbi Kauffmann Kohler over a hundred years ago: 

“Judaism does not deny salvation to those professing other religions…it rather strives ever to clarify and strengthen the universal longing for truth and righteousness which lies at the heart of all religion, and is thus to become a bond of union, an all-illuminating light for the world.”3

In his critique, and in his solutions, Rushkoff draws upon a well of optimism and historically-based vision in order to help provide us a roadmap for a better future. Team Human, in this effort, is a new roadmap for us to pursue a world that fits the ancient dream of the Jewish future: The dream of a world redeemed.

Rabbi Andrue (Andy) J. Kahn (he/they) grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and has lived in New York since 2009. Prior to starting rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, he received a BA from Kenyon College in Ohio, an MA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and an MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. He has served as associate rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York since 2018, where he has invigorated community members in their 20s and 30s, organized interfaith programming, and led people of all ages in deep Jewish learning geared towards spiritual development and tikkun olam. Rabbi Andy currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his spouse Mia and their dog Babka.

1 Rushkoff, Douglas, Team Human, p. 127

 2 Isaiah 6:3

3 Kohler, Kaufmann. Jewish Theology (p. 316). Kindle Edition.