Here is my attempt to communicate all of what I’ve been thinking about in relationship to the genocide that is unfolding before our eyes in Gaza. It is not a history lesson, but rather an exploration of grief, transformation and human development.
I’ve been asking myself so much what the block is about calling what is happening in Gaza a genocide rather than a war or a conflict. Why the silence. Why not call a spade a spade. The massacre is well evidenced. Over 12,000 people have been murdered, over half of whom are children. They do not have access to food, water, medical care or internet. There is clearly violent and targeted intention here, as none of the places (including a UN school that was bombed just yesterday) have been confirmed to be hiding members of Hamas.
But this has happened before, again and again. To the Indigenous people of the US, to communities where descendants of enslaved Africans in the US have made their homes, and to the indigenous people of South Africa and around the world. And every time, the people who were being murdered and brutalized, whose land and homes were being taken over without their informed consent, have been painted as savage, crazy, unruly and ultimately less than human. In the US, there has been no reparations nor any other meaningful action behind empty words nor any desire to change the systems that continue the same age old trauma.
Ultimately, the refusal to name genocide is rooted in an inability to sit with the discomfort of recognizing the ways that we have contributed to the harm of others. Israeli and Jewish Americans have deep ancestral trauma from the Holocaust. If unprocessed, that trauma blocks the ability to empathize and respond to the truth as it unfolds in the present moment, because how could Israel do this when the entire colonial project of Israel was founded as an establishment of Jewish safety. If Americans in general refuse to sit with the discomfort of contributing to this violence with our tax dollars without our consent, then we can avoid the discomfort of being with the truth. We can avoid the grief that will inevitably come, grief that we have become so ill equipped to process in a country that does everything possible to avoid the reality of grief and death.
And so, the US continues to act like a hyped up adolescent to its own citizens and to the rest of the world. This is not only immature but dangerous.
The same pattern plays out in interpersonal (self-other) and intrapersonal (self-self) relationships. When we are unwilling to sit with the discomfort of the harm we have caused ourselves, the harm that others have caused us, and the harm we have caused others, we remain frozen in time. We cannot change. We cannot heal. We cannot grow. We cannot transform.
We will continue to stay stuck in old patterns and unable to move forward if you don’t learn how to be with the discomfort of reckoning with harm.
Transformation cannot happen until we allow ourselves to fully feel the truth of how it is right now. In this body, in this moment, in this collective, what do you feel? What do you see? Can you be honest with what is true in the moment? Can you allow your body to talk to you before you intellectualize the experience into boxes of right and wrong? Can you be present to your own discomfort without shutting down or trying to escape the sensation?
Authentic, long lasting change requires us to get comfortable with, as they say, the discomfort. Just as the people who colonized the US enacted the oppression that had been done to them by the powers that be in Europe, you will enact the harm that mirrors the harm done to you if you don’t learn how to slow down and hold your broken heart.
Embodying grief teaches your body how to be with itself, how to hold pain without shutting down, and ultimately how to live bravely and actively in the present moment.
We all need to widen our capacities to be with discomfort. That is the medicine that this world needs. And that is why this embodied grief work is so essential.
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So much love.