issue #196 - the one on humanity

it's something we can't afford to lose

Humanity has been on my mind and in my heart this week.

The word defines both the collective of every human and the benevolence we show each other. This week’s events would indicate the destruction of both, an additional tragedy on top of the senseless terror that innocent Israelis and Palestinians are living in.

But if you look closer, you can see humanity’s depth and reactivation in a way I haven’t seen before.

Behind the words of every post I’ve seen is a plea for peace and pain to be recognized, without rationalization or justification of said pain. A plea for humanity to be recognized, and not at the expense of someone else’s.

Binary choices are uniquely American. We pick a team, choose a side, or pledge our vote to one of two parties in our elections. Over the week, this binarism has forced our response and our reactions to others in binary ways.

Speaking out against anti-Semitism? That means you support Israel’s military response and the increasing settlements in the West Bank.

Speaking out for the innocent people in Gaza? That means you’re a Hamas supporter and believe the attack is justified.

Expressing empathy for the innocent lives destroyed by this and the decades, centuries, and millennia that has preceded this moment? That means you’re “all sides-ing” this issue, you’re weak, and you refuse to stand up for what’s right.

Amidst all this noise and us falling into the false narrative of binarism, I’ve seen buds of humanity growing in the rubble of this discourse.

The pleas for a longstanding peace between Palestine and Israel are being amplified in a way I haven’t seen before. The horrific, unprecedented bombing of Gaza (and Hamas’ own cruelty in using Gazans as human shields) is being accurately reported by the Western press (something that we unfortunately didn’t see enough of during the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars).

I see reporters, interviewers, and leaders challenging the binary false narrative and calling out Hamas’ terrorism and Netanyahu’s own actions that inflame the issue (from annexation of the West Bank to the judicial overhaul to further facilitate these efforts), about the senseless deaths of so many Palestinians and Israelis since 1947, and Palestine’s lack of support from their Arab neighbors to build a stable and secure nation.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m also seeing a lot of “it’s us or them” and harmful reporting that’s inflaming the tensions and rhetoric even more. That’s my cue to log off and to be present with my family and loved ones - something I recognize I’ve taken for granted my entire life, and have the deepest gratitude and recognition of now.

Make no mistake - we are witnessing one of the darkest moments of human history right now, which has been preceded by immense suffering, trauma, and marginalization for decades and longer. For as long as humans have lived in organized societies, there has always been an erosion of the benevolence part of humanity, and a susceptibility to believing propaganda.

It is my deepest desire that this time will be the turning point. That we look past someone’s words and see the desire for safety and peace for a group that’s been long ignored. That we value the life of a child - any child - and protect them the way we do our own. That we check on our loved ones - especially our Jewish and Muslim friends - and give them our love and support.

I also want us to spend more time offline and doing what so many cannot - to live in peace and safety. To hug our children, to open the tap and pour a glass of clean water, to prepare a meal with little thought in our kitchen, to turn the lights off, to call a loved one to catch up.

I will never take these things for granted again. I will never stop thinking about the catastrophic loss of life and terror at the hands of religious, militarized fundamentalists. I will never stop advocating for and amplifying actions of peace.

I will never stop learning about the history of both Israel and Palestine, of Jewish history and the sects of Islam that have resulted in the death and suffering of so many.

I will never stop standing in solidarity with my Jewish and Muslim friends, for a safe and secure Israel and Palestine, for the innocence of children to be valued by those in power. I will continue to separate people from state and their leaders with the same grace I’ve been extended as both an American and Indian. I will continue to vehemently speak up against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia (which are on the rise, yet again, in the United States) and to speak up about the dangers of militarized, religious fundamentalism.

Most of all, I will never stop calling out Hamas for their barbarism and terrorism, towards Palestinians and Israelis alike. Denouncing terrorism is the lowest bar each of us must step over.

I have to focus on the specks of light in this incredibly dark time, to not lose my own humanity in the process. It is a privilege to live with safety and security when it should be an inalienable right.

I don’t know where we go from here. But I’m processing this powerful video before I put together a plan of long-term action.

I will be hosting an Instagram Live on Tuesday with my dear friend Keren Eldad on how to process this pain and endure this dark time - I hope you can join us.

If you happen to be in NYC on Tuesday night with no plans and want to be in community with others, I hope you can join me at MM.LaFleur for a live podcast taping of The Big Move.

Smart Snacks

The most wholesome video (and comments!) - a shoe trend I can get behind (I ordered this pair, and these socks to complete the look) - a peek at my Charleston trip last week - re-reading this book in honor of Navratri, which just began today - these mini pot-pies look incredible - continuing to wear this t-shirt and this sweatshirt every Phillies and Eagles game day for that good juju (they’re also super cozy - I took an XL in both) - if you loathe silence but spend too much time figuring out what to listen to, might I suggest Spiritune? It’s been a lifesaver for me this week - for those who live in the overlap of the Swelce-Pride & Prejudice Venn Diagram - William Dalrymple is the rare Western historian who openly studies and writes about the horrors of colonialism. I’ve read his work on India-Pakistan, and his episodes on Israel-Palestine were very smart and taught me a lot.

What I Read This Week 

The Spare and The Heir by Ava Rani - a series billed as biotech billionaires was always going to get my attention. It was the breezy, predictable romance series I needed to help my brain turn off this week. While there’s nothing biotech/pharma specific in this book, billionaires with hearts of gold are a familiar, favorite trope for a reason. Given how hard I’m finding it to get into a new book, this was exactly what I needed when I needed it.

To our humanity - may we protect it, nurture it, and never lose it.