Some of my friends are jubilant today. Others are grieving. All of them, though, feel offended and upset. Both sides employed divisive and ugly rhetoric to rally support, and now there are enough hurt feelings to go around.
The rhetoric was all the more hurtful for having an apocalyptic twist to it. This elections season felt like a cosmic battle for the future of our state, a grand confrontation between Light and Darkness. Each side fashioned itself as the Jedi of this war, and warned that the other will bring us to ruin. “They are trying to steal Israel from the people,” said some modern-day Jeremiahs on the right, while their leftist counterparts exclaimed that “this is our last chance to revive the Israel we believe in.” What if an actual Devil materialized among us now, I thought to myself yesterday, and announced an imminent apocalypse? We would probably not even hear him in the clatter. His Jeremiad will simply have to wait its turn.
Such fears and hopes are bound to leave their mark even when the “battle” is over. And indeed, some of today’s revelers are downright gleeful, lashing out against their “defeated” opponents and mocking their beliefs. Similarly, some of today’s mourners feel betrayed and alienated. Like Gideon Levi, they believe that their “defeat” signifies Israel’s moral decline, and wash their hands from a nation that could give Bibi thirty mandates. On both sides, people view each other as the enemy. But if we carry on like this, how will our society function? How will we ever improve?
At the end of the day, we are all in it together. Our Prime Minister has to work for all of us. Our well being depends on our cooperation with each other. Just as our representatives will now have to form alliances with people whom they attacked less than twenty four hours ago, we will now have to find it in our hearts to move on.
Traumatic events tend to fester and poison. There were many moments in this elections season that were traumatic in their ugliness. But I want to build bridges, instead of rehashing hurtful words. It’s time to tune down the divisive rhetoric, and think of “all of us” instead of “us and them”.