Since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel this past weekend, I’ve found myself glued to my news feeds. I’m reading articles, editorials, and opinions. I listened to the powerful speech by President Biden yesterday and have read many personal stories of Israelis and Palestinians who are angry, terrified, grieving and at continued risk.
I feel on alert, as if there is something I should do, or that we should do. Maybe, once again, I’m reaching for a quick path for the violence to end. Yet, I know that is not likely.
It’s tempting to look away from one more international crisis and to move on. Yet, I encourage us not to look away. It’s not that we need to continually digest news, but there is value to paying deep attention.
In her statement in response to the attack, Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Dr. Sofia Bentacourt said this: “Be gentle with yourselves when you need to be, but do not turn away unless you must. We are one global family living tenuously on the same human-impacted Earth. Let us center ourselves in justice as we call for peace.”
In her call to not turn away, Rev. Bentacourt reminds me that the role of witness matters. Being a witness is not a passive role. In the role of witness, we listen to those closer to the experiences of others and let ourselves feel something. As an active witness we observe closely, care for, and sense our shared humanity.
It may lead us to our next right step. We may be reminded to check in with friends most directly impacted, those likely struggling. We may name issues. We may join at vigils. While the issues are daunting, and it’s tempting to look away, our care and attention is needed.
If you or your family need support in these times, please reach out.
Terrorism is evil, and we can’t turn away from the consequences.