Day 30 of the War: Volunteering Isn’t for Everyone

Makeshift way to write the orders for meals for soldiers and evacuees. (courtesy)
Makeshift way to write the orders for meals for soldiers and evacuees. (courtesy)

Yesterday, a good friend asked me to write a post on my blog about people who do not contribute to the war effort. I thought it was an excellent topic. Some people do not find themselves in the constant search for places where they could volunteer. They don’t see themselves picking fruits or vegetables, or in other worthy initiatives. Perhaps they find the peer pressure to volunteer stressful, and what they need in order to maintain their sanity is some peace and quiet, or simply the ability to continue with their normal lives. 

It seems to me, whether we volunteer or not, that the most important thing right now is to metaphorically keep our head above water, and as a widow myself I know from experience how hard it is. Eight years ago I opened a Facebook group  for widows, and the first thing I wrote to the group, when we just started, was that “we are the experts on our pain.” Even though we, the widows only lost our husbands, and on October 7th, our country experienced the worst tragedy in its history, we are all dealing with unbearable pain, and each one of us can instinctively feel what is the best way to cope. 

Now is not the time to criticize those who appear inactive or lazy. Some individuals may need more time, or they may simply not have the energy to pick themselves up. Older people often help with their grandchildren and their adult children, and still, they may not even realize that it’s a valuable contribution. Many younger people, in addition to dealing with the anxiety brought on by the tragedy, are also facing financial difficulties and are worried about an uncertain future. It’s important to remember that, for some, appearing detached or uncaring might be their way of coping with this overwhelming situation.

In short, if you found a way to volunteer that makes you feel useful and needed at this difficult time, that’s great. But if the people around you seem lost or have not found their calling, I suggest that you give them space and not to expect them to cope or grieve in the same way you do. Mourning has different  and unexpected manifestations, and it is not necessarily only about sorrow and tears. It can appear  as mood swings, physical reactions, extreme behavior, apathy, depression, nervousness, impatience, and much more.

Since the last election, the citizens of Israel have been mistreated by a cynical and corrupt government and coalition. And if that were not enough, on October 7th, we were almost buried alive, and we still have over 240 hostages in Gaza. Right now we are despondent and there is no end in sight, but still we can make life less unbearable by being patient with one another and offering empathy without judgment.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. .
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