I have to admit, I deliberated about writing this post.
It’s been sitting with me for a while.
For lots of reasons.
Concern that by admitting my fear I’d be raising the anxiety of others.
Especially for my family who lives far away.
Or friends that are debating about coming for a visit.
But, here I am.
A couple of weeks ago, I admitted to my closest friend here that I am afraid.
“Shira, if you’re afraid, we’re all in trouble.”
I didn’t specify afraid of what exactly.
But, she knew.
Otherwise, she would have asked.
It’s not necessarily the political situation here in Israel – because the political situation is the political situation, and that hasn’t changed since the declaration of this country’s independence 67 years ago.
It’s been in Israel all these years.
Everyone knows that.
But what has changed, at least in the last month, are the methods of terrorism.
Whereas in the past, there have been (and will continue to be suicide bombers) whose aim is to blow up as many innocent civilians in one shot as possible, now it’s become less planned, more random, more heinous.
Using random household tools:
You can be anywhere, anywhere – a shopping mall, a bus stop, or just walking down the street, and the worst nightmare that you’ve ever considered could come your way.
And, if that’s not enough to make you afraid, then take a look at the age of some of the recent terrorists.
And if that’s not enough, what about the demonstrations that took place down the street from our kibbutz.
A walk that would take me about two minutes to get to.
Just at the entrance of the local Arab village, whose population is 15 times that of my kibbutz.
And, we’re not talking about peaceful demonstrations.
We’re talking about angry, rock-throwing, loud demonstrators.
Who are throwing rocks at cars passing by.
At my friends who are simply going to work!
Paranoia set in.
And, when I considered what exactly it was I was afraid of, I realized (if it’s not obvious), that I was afraid for my own life.
I was afraid that perhaps I would be the next victim of the next random act of terrorism.
I was afraid that perhaps the otherwise nice Arab lady who sells me cheese every week at the supermarket would go crazy and decide to use her knife for other purposes.
I was afraid that the friendly Arab man who frames the houses in my husband’s building business and didn’t show up to work last week because he was striking along with all the other Arabs across the country also may decide, out of the blue, to use his tools for something other than framing homes.
I was afraid what my kid’s Arab bus driver could do.
I don’t even want to think what the Arab orthodontist who is supposed to start treating my daughter next week, could do out of temporary insanity/anger.
I was afraid because I don’t feel prepared for any of these situations.
And, I was afraid because I don’t know who I can consider my friend now anymore.
The person I exchange a friendly hello with most days or offer water and cake to on a regular basis could be part of a terrorist cell plotting to destroy me or my family.
I haven’t taken a self-defense class since middle school – and yes, that class was probably a joke of a class anyway.
And although I did learn to shoot an M-16 when I was a teenager, I haven’t a clue how to use a gun now, even if I were licensed to hold one.
Which I kind of want to be right now.
If I’m being honest.
Licensed to carry a gun.
Because I’m afraid.
My own life.
And S.T.U.C.K. on it.
Consider. See, this is where I got stumped. Choose another perspective. What? Not be afraid? That would be stupid and irresponsible. So, what else is there to consider? Peace is around the corner? That would be naive. Perhaps I should consider that ultimately, life is out of my control. I can be as prudent as possible, but in the end, it’s not in my hands. It’s in Someone else’s.
And, I did. The emotion of fear will not leave me any time soon, though the fear of actually dying from a terrorist attack is fleeting. I am continuing on with my life, perhaps a little more cautious than before, but otherwise more or less the same.
I showed up at my child’s doctor appointment this week. I only heard one language spoken while we were in the waiting room. And, it wasn’t Hebrew, nor was it my mother tongue. What to do? Stop living? This is reality here.
And as I hold myself in compassion for getting stuck in fear and acknowledge my bravery in processing through this difficult emotion, I continue on with what my tradition asks me to do: Choose life and keep on living.