Deep down, didn’t we all know the outcome? Why is anyone surprised that on a country-wide level, the collective of citizens of the modern state of Israel are becoming more torn apart, more magnetized by extremes, more confused, more upset? Why should it be any different than what so many other countries are going through?
Deep down, I felt it. I used to feel hopeful. I used to get excited about political moonshots. Now I just feel numb and sad and kinda drugged by reality.
It’s not who’s in power or who isn’t. There are so few true blooded leaders around these days. Anywhere. And things are starting to feel really hopeless and desperate and yet a lot of us are just paralyzed to doing anything about it. It’s just too overwhelming.
So I’ve been thinking all day about what it would take to make a difference. And trying to go beyond “just be a good person.” That can’t be enough, and sometimes it’s the no-good people that have actually moved society forward…
Here are a few thoughts so far:
- Just be a good person. Like vaccinating, it works for the herd if most of the population does it.
- Be communicative. Not just vocal – because that sounds like speaking into a megaphone (Facebook?) and telling people what I think. But to be communicative would mean being open to sharing what you think while waiting for an answer in return. And then formulating a response, and so on.
- Support constructive opposition. Something totally demoralizing here in Israeli politics is that when a lot of these big, new parties that snowball into temporary movements for elections lose – when they come so close and lose – they just peter out. Disappear. The egos are drowned in their own juices and never emerge to actually do anything. And if they do – they stop at mobilizing their supporters to become a new snowballing movement, to keep it going and growing. How is that leadership? Show me a true opposition party in the last few elections.
- Keep the circle wide. This is hard but I force myself to do it – make sure that I have all kinds of voices in my feeds, in my social circles, and I don’t shut out the ones I can’t stand. I have social media ‘friends’ whose opinions I absolutely despise – but if they aren’t popping up in my feed once in a while, I’d forget they exist. And then what? ‘Trump’s America’ would shock me every five seconds? I’d get to live in a bubble the rest of the time? What’s the point?
- Let the details go. I don’t think the way out of political or societal paralysis is to hold on to every slight, every detail. File them away, let them fly away, but I can’t see myself being a productive human while tallying points. That goes for people I interact with daily, or politicians on TV, or people on the street I’ve only observes and made assumptions about but never spoken with.
Sitting in a cafe this morning, I thought about that last point. The center of Jerusalem, a beautiful quiet sunny morning. People coming in for coffee, leaving with little cakes. Pushing strollers, pushing walkers, smoothing wigs or kippas or clutching backpacks over skin tight jackets. I worked to block out the temptation to guess who they voted for. On the street level, does it matter?
So how do you remember that every day? How do you stay grounded, grass-rooted, eye-level with people? Still not feeling great about any of it, but I can’t stay actively hopeless for too long.