This has been a horrific week for many in the world, Israelis and Palestinians in particular. My heart is broken by all the lives lost amidst the ongoing tragedy of violence and oppression.
I’m grateful for these heartfelt words from Valerie Kaur, founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, and I hope they speak to you as well.
Our most powerful response to the horror in Israel and Palestine is to refuse to surrender our humanity.
You will be told by some: The deaths of Israeli children are unfortunate but inevitable, because Israel’s occupation of Palestine is brutal and wrong.
You will be told by others: The deaths of Palestinian children are unfortunate but inevitable, because it is the only way to keep Israel safe from terror, and Hamas brought this on its own people.
Both will say: Our aggression is the only response to their aggression, our fear more justified than their fear, our grief more devastating than theirs ever will be.
But oh my love, the hierarchy of pain is the old way. The moment we allow our hearts to go numb is the moment we shut down our humanity.
I don’t know the solution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, but I do know the starting point: To grieve “their” children as our children.
It’s the only way to break the cycle.
To my loved ones who are Israeli, Jewish, and Palestinian: I see your searing pain. I love you and grieve with you and am reciting my ancestors’ prayers for protection as you search for your families and bear the unbearable. May love find you through the impossible.
To all of us witnessing this story: What does love want you to do?
If you cannot look at the news and the images: It’s okay. Step away, be with the earth, go to the trees, let them breathe through you; remember that you don’t need to do all the things, just the one that’s yours to do.
If you want to help but don’t know how: Begin in relationship. Who in your life is hurting from this? Offer to walk with them, listen to them. There is no fixing grief, only bearing it together. Only then do we know what to do next.
If you are falling apart: Your breathlessness is not a sign of your weakness, but of your strength. Of how deeply you feel the horror, how deeply you care. You still feel. And that matters in a world that wants us to feel nothing. Who can feel it with you? breathe with you?
Opening our hearts to grief— others and our own— is how we hold our humanity in a world that would destroy it. It’s how we will begin to survive this.
My prayer is that we will all keep our hearts open. That we’ll practice revolutionary love. And that we’ll do it together.
In closing, I share these words from the poet, Adrienne Rich. They’ve both comforted and inspired me many times over the years, and I pray they’ll resonate with you as well.
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.