The words of one Crone in the age of Corona.
The assumption of shared experiences -As an outspoken advocate of individuality, these past weeks have been a lesson on what I now understand to be the commonality of the human experience. Yes, shared experience and common humanity now, today -the world is in crisis.
There is a virus that threatens all of us. This virus has no prejudice, no bias. We have all had to modify our behavior, our daily lives. Our lifestyles, the way we walk in this world, have taken on new definition. We have all now been taught the concept of social distancing and this term is redefining who we are as individuals and as a culture, as individuals and as Israelis.
One of the traits that has defined me for as long as I can remember is my tendency to touch, to hug, to put my arm around a friend, to literally pat a colleague on the back, to stick my nose into the necks of those I love -taking a deep breath, inhaling their scent, feeling their warmth and physically sharing that loving, protective feeling I have for them with their physical beings. This part of me has long been something I identify not only as my own, but also something that comes with being a woman, a mother, a friend, a lover, a confidant and yes, a crone. But it is also something else. This trait, this quality -it is also something that comes with being Israeli. Israelis by nature are very ‘unaware’ of personal space, be it actual physical personal space, or emotional and cerebral space. Often this lack of awareness slides into an outright feeling of invasion -and yes, an invasion of privacy.
This sudden change that has been forced upon us ‘for our own safety’ has not been an easy adjustment for Israelis. Many of us just do not know how to internalize this -or how to ‘digest’ this reversal of expected behavior, especially when this necessity is accompanied by objectively alarming occurrences that have become part of the crisis. I am talking about the current precarious state of democracy. At this point in time, with the eeriness of Covid19, I want to trust our leaders. I want to be able to give myself over to the belief that decisions are being made with the population’s best interest at heart. Nonetheless, politicians have demonstrated the tendency to turn to varying degrees of corruption, taking their power for granted and acting in their own best interest. Having a head of state who is being brought up on corruption charges makes this an even more precarious circumstance for trust. The questions I ask myself: Are they compassionate? Do they ‘care’ about the citizens of this country? Do they value the individual, the woman, the man -do they value us all as individuals and as citizens? The answers to these, at the best of times, is wrought with doubt and ambiguity. At this moment, with so many lives at risk, I find myself grappling with a very basic issue of trust. The draconian-seeming rules that have been put into place have
awaken an unease in many, myself included. Do I trust that our leaders really have the best interest of the people in mind as they make decisions? Are our leaders making these decisions based on the good of the people? Are these directives coming from the perspective of a true leader seeking the best possible outcome for the country? Or -and here is where the
voice in my head, is in conflict with my desire to have faith, to believe and to trust that although our leaders have made some pretty bad decisions, and seem to be successful, as well as accomplished, white-color criminals – are our leaders set to turn this country, this land, into a fear-filled, one-man show, a dictatorship in the guise of a democracy? Are we, in fact, in the midst of one of the most terrifying dystopian plots to ever be played out in a carefully written work of fiction? (And how did I, with my wildly active, and often disturbed imagination, did not come up with this plot myself?)
I have never kept my political views secret. I am decidedly feminist, against what I view to be a thoroughly patriarchal government and governing system. My views on trust stem from a lifetime of my own experiences plus those of women before me. I do not easily place my trust in others. It is my supposition that men, in this patriarchal world, must earn my trust, must prove their compassion.
However, when I look deep inside myself, when I focus on my mantra, when I open my eyes in the morning, ‘mode aini’ on my lips, when I look around at the people in my land -I choose to not act out of fear. We can ill afford to act in or from fear. This means going against my instincts of distrust and take a leap of faith, and trusting, if not our leaders, but the those in my community, the people of this land. Covid19, is a disease of the body. As a crone, in the age of Corona, I feel the need to remind those around me and remind myself and others, to trust, to have faith in the compassion and integrity of the majority of those around us. This is not an easy step to take, nor does it come without consequences. But it is the only sane decision to make. We have no choice. Corona is taking its toll on all of us, on both our physical and mental health. Struggling with our fears of the current government’s decisions and actions is a distraction from focusing on what is truly necessary. We must all focus on taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. We must all focus on what we know to be fact, the clear directives of the Ministry of Health and keep the Covid19 at bay.
Our leaders may indeed not be ideal, or even trustworthy, but I am grateful for the people around me. I am grateful that I am here, in my land. Every evening the restrictions placed on our lives have increased. Every evening we hear of the increase of diagnosed covid19 patients. Every evening the news reports of increases of those sent home without work, without pay. These alone are enough to raise panic and fear. What has planted the seed of fear in our hearts is history. Israel was born from the ashes of our murdered families, betrayed by governments and neighbors. The parallels shouldn’t be drawn. I should not be thinking in these terms. I am ashamed to even have these thoughts. As an Israeli, I have come to understand that what has made us strong, at least in part, is our collective the lack of personal space -the lack of social distancing, the intrusion that we practice into each others lives, the compassion we show by hugging, by patting each other on the back. For me, on a very personal level, this social distancing is taking its toll. I cannot reach out to people in a physical way. I am going through a kind of withdrawal, not being able to reach out and shake a hand, give a hug.
For years to come, the tremendous financial, mental and cultural costs, collectively of Covid19 will be examined, measured and analyzed. As a crone, I can’t help but wonder if attention will be given to the fact that we are all being directed to stand alone. I wonder if our masculine leaders are able to acknowledge the extreme difficulty of their people having to keep social distancing for an extended time.
It is our nature to search for security while questioning decisions made on our behalf, especially decisions that cut through to our private lives and our individuality. As two-year-olds tend to respond with an enthusiastic and rebellious No when asked a question, so we as a people tend to respond in the negative, with a ‘dafka.’ But today, this is not in our best interest. Today, we as Israelis, we as citizens and residents of this land, need to think differently. We must follow the rules. We must abide by these draconian feeling directives. Today, at this moment, each us has the power to make the decision to save lives.
As a crone, I say: Stay home. Wash your hands. Make phone calls. And use social media for good.