This Christmas

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In grief education, we are taught to allow space for empathy with others, but to differentiate between their pain and our own. It’s a safety, a hack, a way of being able to be present for those who are hurting and continue to have the strength to deal with your own life . This might seem an obvious strategy, but it isn’t for anyone who has been led to believe they are responsible for, or have the power to change another’s life. There’s a lot of us who have been brought up in a family and/or church setting which wrongly attributed blame or responsibility to us, hence the people pleasers of the world.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan. The victim of an attack lies helpless in the dirt, two religious leaders pass by a broken bleeding human too busy, on their way to study God and tell people how and what they should be doing. It’s the Samaritan who simply knows and does what should be done, who doesn’t need the men who passed by to teach his soul that. He is already the heroic godly example of what it means to be human, and they by contrast are not.

Today I pondered the strategy of separating oneself from others' pain in order to endure my own life. It’s been 60 days, two months of heartbreak and trauma. I’ve watched and witnessed, because I believe that in turning away, I am denying the truth of the suffering of humanity, and that doesn’t set right with my soul. But do I need to remember this is someone else’s suffering and not my own? The truth is I am intertwined deeply with what is happening.

I’m part of the story because I’m human, living on this planet at this time in history. My secular education, cultural influence and every Christian teacher has prioritized a connection to Israel more than I ever understood until now. My heart holds each little child orphaned and bleeding, as a mother holds her own. Children covered in dust , missing limbs pull at my conscious and mind as I grieve the life they should have had, and the trauma that will haunt them. I watch a grandfather in shock, sweetly wait for his dead granddaughter to wake up, and I know his soul, I know what this type of goodbye is. I witness young people who are the same age as my children document and send out to the world proof of their people and their land suffering, staying composed and dignified, knowing the immense weight they are carrying. I refuse to turn away or be silent, because I know what it means and how it feels to be silenced, and turned away from in the most desperate of times.

I’ve known in the core of my being what is happening. I’ve relived every step I took when I stood up for victims in our community, like the replay of a movie. It has not been eerie or creepy or coincidence, but a textbook rereading. I knew instinctively what I simply lacked language for. So I wonder now if we all have the knowing deep inside us and just like me, there’s layers of blinding manipulations that stop us from seeing and then moving in truth. It’s this crazy hope I have that is the making and breaking of my heart. It a heartbeat my husband and I shared, of hope beyond hope.

The first run went like this:

  • My husband and I were in church leadership positions, which meant helping and caring for our community.
  • We were approached with a horrific story of unaddressed abuse.
  • We listened.
  • We prioritized protection and support of victims.
  • We had a vague story, accepted in our community for more than 20 years as our starting point and bias.
  • The story portrayed a poor persecuted glowing community member being accused by troubled teens.
  • The story was an utter lie.
  • The abuser had worked for years to surround themselves with a base of character witnesses and defenders.
  • I interviewed several witnesses, took notes. Studied the leading researchers, doctors, and advocates for abuse, power dynamics, narcissism, manipulation and grooming
  • Understand power dynamics: ie. a 40 year old teacher is more powerful mentally, physically, emotionally, socially , intellectually and religiously than any student in any grade. Teacher=abuser, student=victim
  • Within two weeks had enough information to proceed in the right direction.
  • Filed a police report with enough criminal evidence for a case to begin.
  • Waiting for those we thought were compassionate, godly humans to take in the information and begin supporting the victims.
  • Watched defenders: dig their heels in, continue to deny many victims and witness stories, intimidation of advocates, victims and witnesses, expect victims to forgive and forget, minimizing need for justice since it won’t “fix” the trauma, the abuser and supporters refusing to listen to victims testimony, the abuser never admitting to their guilt, supporters still believing the lie despite a criminal court decision.
  • Continued learning how and why this happened in order to prevent further harm and to make a change.
  • Expanded in my understanding of self and systems, gained great clarity
  • Came to terms with the fact most people don’t want to admit they are wrong, or they are unwilling to experience the discomfort growth and change will require of them, or they are narcissistic abusers themselves, and grieved this deeply.

The rerun:

  • A news report of a horrific event.
  • My response, protect and advocate for victims
  • Listen to victims
  • Wait, the “victim” is unhinged and victimizing hundreds of innocent people as a response, this is narcissistic behavior not justice, protection or advocacy for hostages
  • Worked from the clarity I have gained and honored my instinct
  • Who has the power? Israel has had military, financial, political and propaganda backing from its inception 75 years ago. Palestine has no military, no airport, is completely walled in and occupied by Israel, an apartheid for decades. Isreal=oppressor Palestine=oppressed
  • Listen again.
  • Consider what I know and previous bias.
  • Consider textbook narcissist strategy of building character witnesses and defenders who will defend and overlook obvious evidence of criminal behavior and want everyone else to also.
  • Read everything I can by historians and eye witness victims
  • Watch people not see a replay of the holocaust by narcissistic psychopaths using the holocaust as a smoke screen excuse to commit a genocide
  • Wait for people to catch up, hear and see the undeniable evidence
  • Think, they must just be missing information, just like I naively thought before.
  • Be bullied, intimidated and silenced by people I thought were trustworthy
  • Relive the incredible grief of watching people unable to humbly admit they were wrong, and choosing the unrealistic idea of certainty over the discomfort of growth and change, and choosing to turn away from the worst tragedy in our lifetime, the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government and military maniulating people to believe they are untouchable because they are “God’s Chosen people”.

I feel the same familiar feeling of living the deepest, most real, authentic life I possibly can and not living in reality. How is this happening and every decent person not in agreement that this is wrong? How is the Christmas season still happening when in Bethlehem it has been canceled? How is there that much cognitive dissonance in a country, a community , a church that prides itself as being “Christian “? How will we learn to think critically, protect the vulnerable and live with compassion and integrity if we turn away from the truth of what this Christmas season demands of us?

How can anyone claim to be godly, let alone human at such a time as this?

Our Christ Nativity Looking back from just ahead waiting