Dear Friends -
I've been at a loss these days to orient to the deep pain, suffering, rage, violence, and devastation of the news coming out of the Middle East, Gaza and Israel. As a mother I'm feeling the unimaginable grief of mothers losing their children. As a wife I'm feeling the crisis of the splitting of families. As someone who deeply cares about justice, I'm keenly curious to learn what I can about the complicated history of this region.(Read: The Nakba did not start or end in 1948). As someone who believes in the making of amends and peace, I can't believe we're all witnessing indigenous dispossession, purging and the occupation of lands. One part of this story feels like an old story of white settlers claiming a prior claim on land already inhabited by non-Whites, with the support of civilized countries. (see Dr Gabor Maté's statement on Instagram).
But what do I know? I am neither Israeli or Palestinian. I am not a historian or a survivor of war. You may disagree with me. It's ok. We don't need to spend energy on our disagreements. We don't need to add another round of intense fallout arguments on social media. We see constantly the emotional shrapnel of Us vs Them mentality. It's everywhere. So much energy spent on justifying positions! So much energy spent on rationalizing killing, vengeance, revenge because of history.
I look for evidence of our shared humanity. This morning I read about Yocheved Lifshitz, an 85 year old grandmother, human rights activist and retired photographer who was held for 2 weeks by Hamas. At the moment of her release, she walked off and then turned around, came back, and took the hand of the Hamas militant and said thank you. And Shalom - Peace. Here is a human being who loves humanity. If nothing else, this response makes me hope.
Earlier this week - I spent time with Michal Halev through this video she made commemorating her son, a 20 year old man whom Hamas murdered on October 7. She ends by saying - "In my name, I want no vengeance." A grief stricken plea for no other mother to experience what she's experiencing. Many many more stories if we only look for them. If we only look for the humanness in each and every one.
I don't know what to say and I have so much to say. This is when I know I need to be quiet. In the end, my opinion matters little. My actions matter most. Kindness, generosity, seeking internal peace within so I can BE this. Learning how not to Other others. Taking courage to make mistakes. Asking forgiveness. Listening. Questioning cultural conditioning and narratives. Honoring Life. Sticking to what I know. Love, care, compassion.
Can we at least agree to acknowledge our kinship with the collective consciousness of Life, embracing our shared human existence? Can we at least agree to hold each other while feeling destablilized, unsure and uncertain? Can we at least agree to open ourselves to vulnerability, to not-knowing and bow our heads in prayer and meditation, seeking to know the answer within ourselves, beyond all the noise and chaos? Can we attempt to hold the balance of yin/yang, of Life while there's death, of Joy while there's pain, of constancy while there's instability - and not feel guilty about it?
Can we hold the dilemma and paradox of being human at this moment in time?
From The Tao Te Ching
Attain to utmost Emptiness.
Cling single-heartedly to interior peace.
While all things are stirring together,
I only contemplate the Return.
For flourishing as they do,
Each of them will return to its root.
To return to the root is to find peace.
To find peace is to fulfill one's destiny.
To fulfill one's destiny is to be Constant.
To know the Constant is called Insight.
If one does not know the Constant,
One runs blindly into disasters.