Privilege Blog

In The Face Of It All, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:46am

I’ve spent a lot of the week wondering how to post today, in light of the attacks and counter-attacks in Israel and Gaza. The answer is I can only tell you how I respond in the face of complex, terrible, historical, geopolitical, unknown territory events. In other words, I have nothing to say–except I have to.

First I always try to abstract out the universal. (Probably as a protective instinct, oh my mind, can you save me?) On the one hand, here I see power and greed, rage and despair. There’s a line somewhere defining what we as humans can condone in ourselves and for everyone I know this line has been crossed. On the other hand, we also believe that people love their children, their families, their communities, and all want that to define us instead of horror.

These thoughts might be true but maybe not useful.

In hopes of becoming useful, or at least not not useful, I start to read, read, and then read about the readings, and consider always who is writing and why. I also make sure to read people with whom I initially disagree. Gather my thoughts, essentially, from those who know more than I do, or those who feel more deeply. We can’t believe much if we rely only on facts or alternatively only on feelings.

I have found both Thomas Friedman, ridiculed though he may be for some of his writings over the years, and Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg to be helpful, along with the full range of New York Times and LA Times writings and my Instagram feed memes. I am serious, it all leads somewhere if we pay attention and consider. I am not going to tell you the state of my assessment right now, because I don’t trust it and so I trust your capacity to read.

Learning, understanding, even if you can’t solve anything, is important for informing our actions. Sure, having an opinion, even an informed one, may not be useful per se. How to have an impact, of any sort? The first thing I read was to reach out to your Jewish friends and family, your Palestinian friends and family, and see how they are doing. Listen. There are also good lists everywhere of places to donate for effective humanitarian aid. Feeding people, caring for them, tending to wounds both physical and of the heart and mind is morally irrefutable.

Care and power are separate, however. So often true. What to do about power? Can we affect it? Yes. Communicate with those who have it. Protest, and in democracies, write emails and call the offices of your elected officials. It does matter. Vote and encourage support for those who align with your beliefs. So often that’s what it comes down to. That and finding a way to move past despair.

I have nothing else but a sense of community. Move your chair closer. Not nothing.

It’s the weekend. How are you? I ask only that you reply in the spirit of this post, i.e. all personal feelings are valid, understanding how we think and how to think better is wonderful, any attacks on others may be valid but please take them elsewhere. Hostility is not my sweet spot. The oft-repeated maxim, “many things can be true,” applies.

26 Responses

  1. I wondered how you’d post about this, as I knew you wouldn’t ignore it. It’s so beautifully written and expressed, and I love the maxim “many things can be true” and how it applies to this ongoing conflict. Thank you for your extreme intelligence and sensitivity, and as always, your gentleness and kindness shine through. xoxo

  2. I feel helpless and so far removed from the situation, and yet what can I do? Pray. Pray and try to spread kindness and love in the world. Talk to my children. Talk to the students I work with, carefully, with kindness and respect. You are correct about connecting. Create connections and nurture them. I love that you share a little of yourself here.

    1. I could only share, given that I don’t know anything. I am very glad you are talking to your students, with care.

  3. It is deeply disturbing to observe eyes cold with hatred, to hear voices filled with revenge, and especially to repeatedly hear the words “animals” and “inhuman” tossed around. What are we witnessing in this age of madness? Pray for the children <3

    1. How many people, and peoples, have been called “animals” in human history over the century. And so often the term is used to justify oppressing others, and so often to describe atrocities that have somehow, somehow been committed by human beings.

  4. I struggle with not inflicting pain through ignorance or misunderstanding. A statement of support or opinion that seems benign in my safe and comfortable situation can rest on assumptions I wasn’t even aware of holding. Have definitely been trying to read and learn as much as possible — about the parties, the situation, the distortions in my own lens. There’s plenty of rage and anguish to go around; my first goal is to not add to that. It’s so helpful and reassuring to find islands of humility and compassion such as yours here.

    1. Maria, me too, me too. And words become so charged by what has been said already that interpretation becomes multi-layered and hard to predict. That first rule, do no harm, I agree with completely. And thank you for bringing your thoughts here.

  5. Thank you for your calm and collected way of dealing with a situation that is anything but those descriptions. Kindness, and putting yourself in another’s shoes seems essential to beginning to heal. Thank you, Lisa.

  6. Lisa, I’m all over the place on this, like you say. Today, for example, I’m looking at passion, ie the centuries of blind passion on one side, the centuries of blind passion on the other. Passions handed from generation-to-generation, over the centuries. Friedman helped with his remarks today, using “crazies” to explain both sides. Your remarks are careful and rational, what we’re seeing is not. That’s where I am today. Tomorrow, who knows. As always, thank you for your thoughts.

  7. With great sadness, we watch war which guarantees bloodshed. Innocent lives lost on all sides. Leadership has failed. I have no answers.

  8. I’m reading, too. Everything. There’s been some great, analytical, and balanced content on the internet and a new (and according to the description, objective, as much as this is possible) book on the history of the region arrived today.

    Others have highlighted that it is important to pay attention to how the media is presenting this and I am paying attention.

    My heart aches for the pain of all people suffering because of this horror.

  9. Pain is all I feel.
    I’m having a very hard time with all of this.
    I can only read so much then have to step away.

  10. What a wonderful refuge and sanctuary you have created with this community, Lisa. It’s nice to be here, soaking in the grace of anll your voices even though I have nothing to add to the kindness and generosity already expressed. Let’s keep this going. Thank you, wise women. And thanks again to Lisa, giving privilege new meaning in the context of such horror.

    1. Thank you so much. I also find the sound of these multiple thoughtful and caring voices very comforting.

  11. You always write. something wise, something close to the heart. We need to share all our hurts and fears in a place of comfort, and you provide a place for peace of thought, a heartfelt voice of kindness in a world where there are forces that seem determined to tear us apart. I always think it is the care we show in our individual spheres that is the important thing.

    1. Thank you so much, Marcel. We can at the very least model in our spheres the behavior we wish for in the wider society.

  12. I live in Israel. Considering myself priviledged. In normal times.
    I have followed you along the years, you – and other so called “life style” bloggers.
    Out of all of them, you were the only one who saw fit to address the situation, and for that I thank you.

    1. Judith, I am so sorry for your country’s pain and I hope and your family and friends and community are safe. You are welcome. I had no choice; I was unable to write about anything else. I wish us all, and you in particular, peace and health.

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