So many of us, in light of Israel’s election result, are on a scale between ‘a bit down’ and ‘utterly despondent’, so many of us feel that an opportunity for change, an opportunity to ‘clean the sewer’, an opportunity to sweep away political corruption, legal and moral, an opportunity to introduce fairness, equality, kindness, empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance into politics and society, an opportunity to better the lot of ALL Israelis, not just the political classes and the privileged few, that those opportunities have been lost. IMHO, they have been lost.
So what do ‘we’ do?
Do we say to ourselves,
“Well, we did our bit, we voted for change, the result didn’t go our way, didn’t go the way that would have benefitted politics, the disenfranchised, the poor (and there is a lot of poverty – tragically, a lot of child poverty – in this country!), the forgotten (eg Holocaust survivors), so, so many communities in this country, it didn’t work out but what can we do?”
Do we say, “there’s nothing that we, we on our own, can do to effect change, we aren’t in the Knesset…”
Do we sit back, comfort ourselves by saying that we voted for change and that that’s all we can do?
Do we now just sit back, grumble, criticise and wait for the next election?
We can, of course, just complain and grumble but what does that say about our sincerity, our authenticity? What good does it do?
If we want to see empathy, kindness, compassion, understanding, tolerance and fairness in our society, in Israel (and beyond), the first thing, the primary thing, we must do, if we are sincere, if we are authentic, is to live our lives in accordance with these values. We mustn’t wait for other people to do it, WE can, we MUST, do it ourselves.
Say “good morning” to the guys who are sweeping our streets, see them, really see them, acknowledge them, say “good morning” or “hello”, connect with them, let them know that they are not ‘just street cleaners’, not ‘just road sweepers’, not ‘just binmen’, that they are human beings, that they are pieces in the jigsaw that is humanity, no smaller a piece than you are, than I am.
How difficult is that?! Smile, say “good morning”, say “thank you”, you put a smile on someone’s face, you change how they feel, you give them a lift, you change their day and, by making them happy, other people with whom they connect, with whom they come into contact, will be happier, it’s a snowball effect.
If you have a big ego, acknowledge it, let it go. It’s poison. If you think that you are right and everyone else is wrong and that, worse, that that makes the other people, the people who you think are wrong, if you think that that renders them stupid or lesser people, stop it! None of us have a monopoly of truth.
Empathy, understanding. Don’t jump to judging people. There’s always a back story. We all have a back story which informs our attitudes, opinions and world view and, often, our misperceptions and misconceptions. We are all the product of nature and nurture. If we had been brought up differently, if we’d been exposed to the opposite of what we were perhaps immensely privileged to see and know, if we’d been brought up in abject poverty, if we’d been disadvantaged, if we’d been ‘educated’ differently, been ‘taught’ differently, we’d almost certainly be different people today.
Those of us who are, relative to the rest of the world’s population, privileged, those of us who had an education, who can eat when we’re hungry, have fresh water, have a roof over our heads, who are ‘free’, who vote in free elections in democratic countries, those of us who have ‘the power’, we are the ones who REALLY should not judge, who REALLY need to make an effort, an extra effort, to empathise, who should really take the time to understand others, to practice compassion.
Jettison the anger, the envy, the chips on the shoulder, the poison. Most of us have our own mental houses to get in order. Remember, everyone’s fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes!
Our worldview, our anger, our anxieties, our attitudes, they’re almost all based on, are almost all the product, by by-product, the consequence, of misperception. What we see as reality is, more often than not, a misperception.
I posted a selfie of myself on Tuesday, a photo of me voting in the election, with the caption, “doing my bit”:
“my bit” of what? I was doing “my bit” of democracy, I was taking part in the democratic process, a privilege, a right, a duty, to cast my vote. But what good was I doing? Just ‘a bit’, just a bit, a tiny bit, of good. I – we – can do more than that! If we are sincere in wanting change, change for good, if we are sincere in feeling despondent about the election result, we must do more than that ‘bit’.
Start with a smile….