*For people grieving and processing, this may not be an appropriate read.
Just over a week has passed. The inconceivable took place. The unspeakable. Last week, the country converged in a bubble of shock, emotion, and disbelief. Everyone sprung into a whirlwind of activity, gestures of aid — large and small, prayers, and support, and continue to do so. All that has transpired has had a profound impact on us as a nation, on our communities, and on each of us as individuals.
And now it may be time. Not time for all of us, but time for some of us. Perhaps. To breathe, to gather strength, to ground ourselves, and to step forward and proceed to the next phase. Not for all of us, but for some of us, because not everyone is ready. We each have our own timeline for processing last week’s events and the events that are to come, for grieving, especially if we are grieving for those close to us, and that is to be respected.
So last week, for the first time in my life, I was able to overcome internal barriers and focus on giving. To me that signifies having healed enough over time to be able to give at a societal and national level. But any form of giving is laudable. We can offer one word to someone, a smile, a shoulder to lean on, and it can change their life. There is no form of giving that is a cut above the rest.
I spoke to someone yesterday, who felt guilty for feeling helpless while others suffer. No one needs to feel helpless. At the very least, focus on yourself, on your growth, and developing your talents; read relevant material, watch appropriate film content, meditate, because when you raise yourself, you raise those around you; you raise society and the world. We may not be sensitive enough to perceive it, but every tiny ounce of positive growth makes a difference in the world, and I say this not only for now, but for any time.
And for those at home with young families – your contribution is to continue caring for your children. This is what is most important for you right now.
This post is not about giving, however. To the contrary. It is about taking, about gaining; it is about growing. Throughout last week, amid the shock, I thought about what I’ve encountered and what I had gained since the inconceivable occurred, how I had grown, what positive changes I’ve been experiencing. Because any event at any scale impacts the various levels of society. A national tragedy such as ours also has a personal impact inasmuch as it impacts us on the national, societal, and family levels – and let us not forget the universal level. Likewise, a personal event has the power to affect all these levels, too, ever so subtly. And I am not referring to the atrocities necessarily, but what they have brought about; how we have chosen to react by helping each other: the impact.
When something impacts us in such a way that it shakes the core of our being on whichever level it may be – individual, family, communal, societal, national, universal – it is like a building shaken by an earthquake, and the more a building shakes, the weaker its foundations, and the more we have to rebuild to emerge stronger, surer, and truer on the other side.
The more displaced we feel from recent events, the higher the likelihood that we have been resting on shaky foundations to begin with. We have not been strong, we have relied on the wrong means to forge ahead and develop our country, its leadership, our relations with each other. We have misunderstood and made the wrong decisions and it resulted in tragedy. This happens on all levels. However, we have the opportunity to rebuild ourselves on fortified foundations and the flurry of activity and care, the teamwork and solidarity, the compassion and support, no matter who we are and what we believe and support, is tantamount to a good solid, strong foundation from which we can grow in love and unity. That is not to say that we will not encounter future difficulties, for growth is a process of ups and downs, but we have placed our right foot forward.
What is occurring now in terms of national unity will not continue indefinitely, however it is an indication of our potential, and once life returns to an iota of normalcy, we shall need to work towards making this potential the norm. We can always remember acharei hachagim, to remind us of what we are capable of.
This post turned out to be long, and I have not yet reached the “taking” part of it – What have we all gained from last week? I am in the midst of composing a personal list of what I have gained, but will save it for the next post.