KJ Hannah Greenberg


Whereas we can’t control our destiny, we can influence it. An important part of our fate is our welfare. Although we have no power over what’s done to us, we have ultimate power over how we react, over what we do. Simply, we can fashion and reinforce boundaries; we can shield ourselves.

Benefits of boundaries include improved emotional health, added relationship enjoyment and less resentment, presence and mindfulness, increased confidence, intentional interactions, accessible scripts, a sense of self-control, and better communication (“8 [sic] Ways Setting Boundaries Can Transform Your Relationships”). These ends are laudable.

Nonetheless, at times, when we care for ourselves by establishing and maintaining limits, our behavior is perceived as threatening, especially by folks whose belligerences are confound by our formed safeties. It’s tough to pressure or to otherwise strongarm persons or nations who express and hold fast to their restrictions. So, personal and national bullies balk at constraints.

For instance, a child who was mocking a classmate’s relatively healthy lunch was quieted when the victim decided not to bebothered by the tormenter’s verbal hostilities. When the victim didn’t react, the intimidator’s “game” lost its fun. In the same way, despite the world’s hissy fits, as long as Israel holds fast to her dual missions of freeing hostages and wiping out evil, enemies’ rhetoric will gain them nothing. Clinical psychologist Henry Cloud reminds, in “How to Handle Those Who Get Angry at Your Boundaries,” that we should “[r]ealize that the person [or realm] who is angry at you for setting boundaries is the one with the problem” (Cloud). Guarding ourselves from onslaughts is not only reasonable but necessary while pleasing aggressors is neither reasonable nor necessary.

Beyond countering with self-defense, we can act to deter future violence. Essayist Elaine Roth points out, in “It’s Important to Teach Your Kids the Difference Between Being Nice & Being Kind—Here’s How,” that we can learn to be proactive in our resistance to pugnacity, meaning, that we can come to know how to carefully assess other parties’ intentionality. We can, for instance, find out how to discern between kindness and “niceness.” More specifically, “[a] kind act is one that’s done with intention and thoughtfulness. It’s something that stems from a place of empathy…the kind choice isn’t always the easy choice. Nice is circumstantial and can be superficial” (Roth).

Have in mind that it’s beyond acceptable for us, as individuals, or as a nation, to sidestep “charitable,” i.e. “nice” behaviors. People who try to curry favor are likely to also be people whose sense of self is sufficiently impaired as to transform them into coercers. It’s not so “nice” when a schoolyard bully gives a newbie attention only to “steal their lunch money.” We ought to avoid such persons. In the same way, states that try to play up to us are often revealed to be states that are interested in becoming subjugators. It’s not so “nice” when they manufacture arms to sell to us but do so on the condition that we rein in our protections. We ought to shy from such “comrades.”

Not only are obstructions to maltreatment needed and not only can we ascertain when we need to install them, but doing so requires bravery. Choosing curbs “carries risk: the risk of discomfort or the risk of vulnerability and rejection. [Compliance] is simply easier” (Roth). It would take no initial effort to agree with the nasty grade schooler that they ought to mock our homemade lunch or take our lunch money away from us. To thwart them calls for mettle. Correspondingly, it’s relatively easy to rely on other nations to sell us ammunition rather than to make our own or to allow them to dictate our terms of war and peace rather than to be self-determinate. Yet, if we’re not to become self-abandoning, we must be daring and “deign to define” our borders by ourselves. We can and ought to speak truth to (the world’s) power(s). We can and ought to “[s]tand up for what’s right and tell people in charge what’s what. That’s the idea behind the phrase speak truth to power, an expression for courageously confronting [authorities], calling out injustices… and demanding change” (“Speak truth to power”).

As individual members of the Klal, and as the community of Am Yisrael, we cannot and ought not to tolerate terrorism. It’s not and will never be okay for us to bow out of saving ourselves, our loved ones, or our land from harm just because our confronting malevolence creates dissonance for its perpetrators. Instituting and sustaining our security is a basic right.


“8 [sic] Ways Setting Boundaries Can Transform Your Relationships.” Urban Wellness Blog. 10 Jan. 2020. Accessed 26 Dec. 2023.

Cloud, Henry. “How to Handle Those Who Get Angry at Your Boundaries.” 14 Apr. 2020. Accessed 26 Dec. 2023.

Roth, Elaine. “It’s Important to Teach Your Kids the Difference Between Being Nice & Being Kind—Here’s How.” Yahoo!life. 28 Nov. 2022.  Accessed 26 Dec. 2023.

“Speak truth to power” [sic]. 14 Aug. 2020. Accessed 26 Dec 2023.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.
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