Journey to Thanksgiving: Reflections on Empathy in a Divided World

I drove to Alabama last week to be with my in-laws for American Thanksgiving. On the way, I listened to public radio, most of which was focused on what is happening in Israel at the moment. I heard impassioned pleas and arguments supporting Israel’s aggression against Hamas, and equally powerful pleas and arguments for a cease fire and for humanitarian aid for those trying to live in Gaza.

Where I live, I hear people saying they sympathize with one side or both, as if it were a distant event that didn’t have much to do with their lives; or raging against one side or the other, clearly feeling personally impacted by what is going on. The first group seem as though they have distanced themselves from what is happening, sympathizing but not empathizing with those they are talking about – not feeling what it must be like for the people in Gaza or Israel to have to live through such a horrible situation. The second group of people definitely empathize with at least the people living in Gaza or those living in Israel; I hope their empathy is for both peoples, because both are in anguish, and live in terror and chaos.

What might it be like to have all your freedoms taken, and to have to live without electricity, or fuel, or a way to communicate, as those in Gaza have so often been forced to endure? What might it be like to feel hated for simply existing, always wary of being bombed or shot? I can barely take in how I would feel if a loved one were brutally murdered, or tortured, or taken hostage simply for being a certain race or religion.

There is no easy answer, but I, personally, will do what I can to support finding one that might work for both, so that they, and the world can begin to heal.


Quote of the Week

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway


The Israel-Hamas world – and what it means for the world; Ian Bremmer


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