This is Hard, Y’all

The day that Hamas launched an attack on Israel that killed at least 800 people at this posting will be one of those days like 9/11. October 7, 2023. A day that will divide so many lives into what came before and what happened after. Will we end up using 10/7 for shorthand as time goes by?

(Disclaimer: We can agree that none of us is going through anything close to approaching what the people in the midst of the conflict are experiencing and still acknowledge that the situation is one that is hard to navigate–not only in our communities, but in our own heads.)

We don’t know what to do. We don’t even know what to say.

Stand with Israel? But what about the Palestinians that live in occupied territory?

Try to see “both sides” by using the occupation to justify the slaughter of civilians? That’s so NOT right that it’s ridiculous to even have the conversation.

Call on our congress people to do something? You mean the ones who can’t do ANYTHING right now because they ousted the speaker of the house for the first time in HISTORY?

Pray? That just seems so lame. I believe strongly in the power of prayer, but telling people we’re praying for them smacks of all the “thoughts and prayers” social media posts that go out after every mass shooting ever.

If you are feeling outraged and sad and afraid and confused and helpless by the horrors that are unfolding in Israel and Gaza right now, you are not alone. It IS outrageous and sad and scary and confusing. I’m no expert on geopolitics, but even I know that this conflict is not something we can fix. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something.

What you can do

  • Check on your Jewish friends. They are not okay. Spirits are broken. Fear is growing. Chances are they know someone or love someone who knows someone who has died or is missing.
  • Check on your Palestinian friends. They are not okay either. Chances are they know someone or love someone who knows someone who has died or is missing.
  • Always, always, always condemn terrorism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly violent head.
  • Advocate for the welfare of children no matter where they live or where they come from.
  • Donate money to aid those who have been affected. Time magazine has just released a list of trusted agencies that you can support.
  • Be an agent for peace in your own community.
  • When you begin to think of any person or group of people as “other,” check yourself and remember that we are all beloved children of God. When you witness the dehumanizing of others, stand up and speak out.

And yes, pray. It matters. But don’t just pray and sit still. Put some feet to those prayers.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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