These last few months have been a bit stressful for this (relatively) new Olah. Since the last war in 2012 when Hamas fired rockets at every city here in Israel, things were relatively quiet and peaceful here. Once that passed we all continued with our lives; raising our families, taking care of ourselves, continuing to work and build our businesses, and even bringing new life into the world. I remember thinking early on in 2014 how quiet it had been. Then, on June 12th, 2014 three teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel (z’l), Gilad Sha’ar (z’l), and Eyal Yifrach (z’l), were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by Hamas terrorists. It was then that I felt that the world as I knew it had turned upside down.
The kidnapping and murder of these three innocent and beautiful teenagers was the beginning of one intense episode after another, that culminated in the firing of thousands of rockets into Israel, and the deaths of soldiers and civilians. From mid-June until the end of August we held our breaths, wondering when this latest stage in the ongoing war with those who want to harm and kill us will come to an end. We hardly had any time to mourn our beloved ‘boys’ before preparing our bomb shelters and our children for what to do when hearing a siren, warning of incoming rockets.
Yes, that’s right, incoming rockets. It is a surreal experience and one that should be left in Hollywood movies. It is surreal to the point that at first I was in complete denial that it was actually happening – all of it, the murders and the firing of rockets. It was this refusal to accept what was actually happening that made it very difficult for me to cope.
I am an idealist. I believe in people and in their ability to change, grow, learn, be amazing, and live meaningful, purposeful, productive and successful lives. I found it very difficult to accept that there are people in this world, people who are my countries ‘neighbors’ that are dedicated to murder and destruction. Usually my positive and ideal outlook serve me well in all aspects of my life, from my relationships, to raising my children, and to running my business. When it comes to terrorism, however, this outlook and approach leads me to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and stress.
So, what’s the solution? How have I found a way to cope with all of this?
I realized that what was causing most of my frustration and anxiety was a rejection of reality. I refused to accept what was. I refused to accept that others could and are acting in a harmful, destructive way; a way that goes against everything that I believe in, encourage, and strive for.
So, although I refuse to give up on my ideals (for I believe that that is one of the reasons I am here), I learned that I must also accept what is. By creating a balance of upholding my own ideals and spreading my message of goodness, and at the same time accepting that much of the world has not caught up to me and others who uphold these ideals, I can remain aware and present. I can prepare myself mentally and physically and feel less anxious even while the real, ongoing, threats continue to rear their ugly heads. And while I cannot control when or where that next threat will come, I can control my attitude towards them and the goodness that I choose to fill the world with.
That is how I cope.