Move beyond the 'red zone'

Optimism and hope for the future

We are hurting and mourning, yet persistently trying to rise beyond to rationalise, and normalise our new, surreal reality.

dinkus image
dinkus image

We live in challenging times.

We recently marked six months since the start of the war, the news is incessantly sad, miserable and depressing, and each day can, at times, seem bleaker than the one before.

We are hurting and mourning, yet persistently trying to rise beyond to rationalise, and normalise our new, surreal reality.

The everyday greeting of asking someone “Mah nishma? – How are you?” has become a double entendre, a loaded question fraught with duality and risk.

The world and the communities we live in, appear increasingly hostile and threatening, and we are all relentlessly recalibrating our relationships with and perceptions of our external friendships, communities, and neighbours.

And, regardless of our political persuasions and opinions, we are also challenged and gravely concerned by the hubris, arrogance and failures of leadership and governance, that brought about this disastrous and unprecedented challenge to our people and our national sovereignty, existence, and confidence, and the alarming lack of political accountability.

Since that black Shabbat on October 7, we as a country, a nation, and as a people, are consistently hurtling from one crisis to another, living constantly in a dangerous “red zone” mindset of fight-flight-freeze, frantic-fearful-frustrated, as opposed to a healthier “blue zone” mindset of flow-flourish, peace-possibility, calm-connect, create-confident.

And yet, despite all this, we have to try and move beyond the “red zone” if we are to survive and eventually thrive, personally and collectively.

For me, it is about optimism and hope – optimism as a transient belief that we’ll be okay, and hope as a sense that action will lead to better times.

I am massively inspired by the optimism and hope of this phenomenal, misjudged, and underestimated generation of young people in Israel, who so quickly, selflessly and admirably showed up to fight and volunteer, most often without a formal call to arms, with a singularity of purpose and unity, for this country, nation and people’s future, and the victims’ welfare and resilience.

Yes, this same generation that has grown up in the shadow of increasingly volatile political polarity, a progressively violent culture of political and social discourse, an absence of public accountability and responsibility, corruption, and in the shadow of the threatening climate crisis, and that faced Covid-19, the threat of a “legal coup/restructure”, October 7, and now – this vindicated yet damned war.

They’ve witnessed and experienced a government that went “missing in action”, abandoned the residents of Israel’s northern and southern periphery, the hostages and their families, and who didn’t look well enough after them and their families and livelihoods while they served and sacrificed.

They’ve lost friends and family at the Nova music festival, in the Gaza envelope communities, in Gaza and up north, and they find themselves going from one funeral to another, comforting each other, and each other’s broken, bruised and grieving families.

And yet, despite all this, perhaps because of all this, they constantly show us mind-boggling energies and powers of purpose, and action and volunteerism and sacrifice, and selflessness and humility and hope, and resilience and leadership by example, a spontaneous and intuitive craving and call for positive change, to redefine the meaning and purpose and culture of public discourse and leadership, regardless of political social or economic backgrounds or persuasions.

And as we look back on the Pesach seders just gone, with all of their wonderful ritual and storytelling to relate, m’dor l’dor – from each generation to the next, our people’s redemption from slavery, the symbolism and embodiment of this generation’s selfless commitment and example and leadership, is not lost on me.

And that reminds me why, and what, we and they are fighting for, sacrificing for, that this fight is for our beloved children, and their friends, and the abductees and their families, and the soldiers, and the grieving families of the entire region, for positive change, and a better future of us all – our nation, people and country.

And so, despite the all-encompassing grief and sadness and sense of helplessness, I choose both optimism and hope, pick myself up each time, look forward, choose life, not victimhood, and continue believing in and actively working for a better future, to be worthy of THEM, this inspirational next generation.

This is the least we can do for the memory of the victims, for those who have sacrificed, and for those we are still waiting for after 203 days!.

B’sorot tovot – may we be blessed with good news!

Natie Shevel is CEO of Israeli not-for-profit the Ronson Foundation. He lives with his Australian-born wife in Hod Hasharon.

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