We are multilayered beings. We consist of multitudes. Our lifetimes of experiences, memories, pains, moments of growth and breakthroughs shape who we are. Life is complex and beautiful in its complexity. Every unique point of view brings a perspective that is so important. And not one thing, opinion, or experience can tell our entire stories. We can and should occupy a space that includes nuances, and opposing ideals, and seemingly conflicting points of view and that reflects the complexity of life as well as the importance of context.
We can and also should make space for growth and recognize that because you believe something one day does not mean you cannot change your mind about it in the future. You can also hold multiple truths. Isn't that amazing? The possibilities of who you are and what you stand for are endless and that is the beauty of our expansiveness. And yet, some things are immutable. A duty to uphold virtues like kindness, respect, truth, justice to name but a few.
When I stand up for human rights and racism or against oppressive policies, I stand up against ANY and ALL racism and ANY and ALL oppression. And that is the whole point! Equality for one, and justice for one, and outrage for one, means equality for all and justice for all and outrage for all. Empathy and compassion can and DO cross racial and ethnic lines. Empathy and compassion do not care about your religion or your supposed right to claim land at the expense of human beings, human rights, and human dignity.
Human rights are not mutually exclusive either. It is possible for me to stand equally for Palestinian rights and also for anti-Semitism. I can support Palestine AND also Israel's right to exist as a home for Jewish people. I can condemn the state of Israel and its policies AND have empathy for its citizens caught in the cross-fire. By advocating for one, does NOT make you anti-the-other. It doesn’t work that way! By framing the situation as one religion vs another takes away from A MILLION OTHER REALITIES and that is the not a coincidence but a strategy! Detract from everything that is occurring on the ground and all the atrocities being committed, and play the religion card, because it is an amazing tool to use to create division.
Believe it or not, there other religions in Palestine besides Islam. Lest we forget this is the birthplace of Jesus and is an important struggle for Palestinian Christians too. The strategy of divide and rule has been 73 years in the making and is proving to be a failure, because what this struggle for independence has shown, is that you can divide Gaza from Jerusalem and the West Bank and from Palestinians of ’48 living inside Israel as well as the diaspora. But in the end, the identity of Palestinians has lived on, and so has their sense of unity. You can try to cut them off geographically and pit them against each other, but their shared history, identity and struggle is too strong to be extinguished.
The world is overwhelming yes, and we live in a cycle of crisis after crisis. It is easy to become apathetic and easier still to become overwhelmed and want to turn it off, tune it out. But remember that this is a 73 year old struggle and that for the first time, Palestinian voices are able to be heard above the biased propaganda you see on TV in the West. It is the first time, their voices have the potential to be amplified by social media outlets that ironically also try to erase their voices. This issue can finally move from conference rooms and defunct international law institutions to the masses, who may not even be aware of the ongoing struggle.
In other words, this is an opportunity for the underdog in this rigged fight to finally have a voice, and let people know from their own mouths, their own experiences, their own eyes, their own struggles and their own oppression what they are experiencing firsthand. Don’t listen to the politicians. Don’t listen to the news. Listen to the people on the ground. Forget the story being sold to you. The one about rockets and about self-defense. Forget the story about religion. Forget the story about the obscure and vague numbers of deaths in the newspapers. This is not about numbers. This is about real life. Every number a person. A life. A life lived under military occupation. A life that seemingly is deemed of no value. A life reduced to a number in a newspaper.
And then, my heart aches. Because it all feels futile. 73 years and things only seem to be getting worse. Broken peace deals and unenforced international laws. Bombs. Ethnic cleansing. Settlements. Military and civilian pressure. Injustice. And I ask myself: How do we balance the outrage that we ought to be feeling at the state of our world, with our health and wellbeing? How do we balance the awareness that this 24 hour news cycle is not natural with the need to raise awareness? How do we balance the overwhelm that is social media and the fact that every crisis seems so big and so unsolvable with our tired hearts and minds?
So I turn off my social media because my head and heart can no longer handle the reality. And then I think, wait. Is turning a blind eye the answer? What is our responsibility to fix this system? A system we are not wholly responsible for, and yet one where we HAVE to take responsibility for in order for anything to change? But how do we change it? If its been 73 years and there has been no change, how do we change it? And that's when I look to nature.
If as above so below and if as within so without and if the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm and the macrocosm is a reflection of the microcosm, then logic should go that by changing ourselves we can change the planet and the issues that confront us in this lifetime. It is true that by healing ourselves, and healing our communities, we can slowly start to shift our collective consciousness and heal the systemic wounds in our respective countries and heal the wounds we have inflicted upon this earth.
When the Western world, currently turning a blind eye to the issue in Palestine and the issues in the Middle East, can collectively take a good look at themselves and their unjust systems, oppressive systems and extractive systems, and ask themselves to reckon with the forces that led to this overall exploitative system in their own countries and in their own consciousness, only then can they apply that shift in collective consciousness and relate to those facing oppression beyond their boundaries (but not beyond their policies) and understand why the need for liberation amongst the world's indigenous populations is a right and a must.
But if you are overwhelmed and do not wish to engage in ways that uplift those less fortunate and privileged because you feel helpless, exhausted, hopeless or you just simply don't have the capacity to deal with all the issues you are confronted with, I would encourage you to unplug from the noise and to work on yourself in any way that benefits you. Because by healing yourself and by shifting your consciousness, then maybe, just maybe, we can heal the entire world and finally understand that there is a shared consciousness that connects us all and that our fates are all inextricably intertwined for better or for worse. And maybe then we will recognize that while it seems like crisis after crisis makes many crises, the root of them all can be traced back to the same sets of issues and if we can conquer the colonist mindset, we can conquer more than one crisis at a time. I may not be able to change the world but I can change myself and that is a great start in healing the world.