Notes From the Cognitive Dissonance
The impact of selective empathy
Below are a handful of the accounts I'm following and learning from on Instagram.* (Some of these also have Facebook, Substack, and X accounts.) I’m acutely aware that these will land differently for different people. And some Jews may find that these accounts may validate and speak to some of the disorientation and complexity many of us are currently navigating, along with widening the lens.
So much of what I'm seeing and hearing carries a fundamental message that Israel is the enemy of humanity. Try as I might, I cannot put into words the impact of this. I keep thinking how Israel under Netanyahu is akin to Trump becoming the president here, with so many Israelis furious and betrayed on top of being shattered with grief.
The loss of life and conditions in Gaza are totally unbearable to witness. So are the brutal atrocities Hamas wrought on October 7. So is knowing 240 hostages, including babies, representing 40 nationalities have been held hostage for over a month now.
I keep reaching for a way to describe my own experience as a Jew in the diaspora, then think, this is not important right now. And in many ways, it's not – I'm sitting in my warm, safe home, looking out the window at a peaceful, sunny new day, and the cognitive dissonance is dizzying.
I keep writing and deleting sentences. Silencing myself might be fine if it's a recognition that my voice is not one that matters right now, and also not fine if it’s out of fear or self-effacement. How to tell the difference?
I continue to be amazed, though not surprised, at how unwaveringly sure of themselves many are in this moment, especially those whose perspective is steeped in broad sweeping strokes and statements.
There is nothing righteous about selective empathy, even, maybe especially, in such dire times.
Social media convinces us that we must either agree or disagree, "love" or block. I see this in myself, the way all of these platforms reinforce my reactivity. It is not who or how I want to be.
This is all so agonizing. That is the only thing I'm sure of. That, and the fact that for all the people who are so certain about what's right, there are those who are living inside of unfathomable pain, who have been and continue to work for ways of relating that center listening, learning.
*Sharing these doesn’t mean I resonate or agree with everything they say. That kind of monolithic and absolutist thinking is part of what I’m struggling with.
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