From the river to the sea

44 days and counting since Palestine has been under fire and we helplessly see all signs of human existence being destroyed and demolished. A friend asked me why the Genocide of our Palestinian brothers is hurting us more than any other atrocities of this nature. Did we feel the pain of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan too? And my answer was that yes, we did, but I believe the Palestine situation feels close to home. Palestine is highly esteemed in Islamic history and has great significance for Muslims. Allah has named it the “Holy Land and the Blessed Land” in the Quran. It is considered the third-holiest city in Islam after Mecca and Medina because of Masjid Al-Aqsa, the sacred mosque towards which the Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslim community turned their faces in prayer.
Ever since the Genocide started, there have been mixed reactions from the world but I want to highlight reactions at an individual level and how the lack of is triggering others.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the situation in Palestine is a cataclysmic event that evokes collective trauma and in turn personal trauma. Collective trauma refers to the psychological reactions to a traumatic event that affects an entire society which I believe acts as a catalyst for personal wounds to start bleeding again.
I was one of the people who was greatly triggered by the silence of others in private settings or social media platforms. I saw it as indifference and it made me angry that anyone could even imagine turning their head away from what is happening in Gaza. But then I realised that people’s reactions to this collective trauma are how they cope with personal challenges. It’s the fight, flight, freeze response. More importantly, we all have our window of tolerance and just because I watch and share videos on social media platforms because I feel that’s the least I can do, doesn’t mean someone else has to play their role similarly. I saw people banning Israeli products but not necessarily sharing and posting anything on their social media platforms. I understood that they were grieving in silence and some of us chose to scream and howl. Many people are badly triggered by the silence of others and to me, it looks like maybe in their personal stories when they were suffering from injustice, there were silent witnesses who in the least could have raised their voice and chose not to.
Many of us are enacting our stories unconsciously and are personally triggered by the Genocide in Gaza. We are experiencing helplessness and that’s a familiar emotion for many of us in our personal wounding stories in childhood and also in adulthood be it unhappy relationships, professional struggles, health issues, economic crises and unfortunately the list goes on.
So, I think that we should not judge anyone’s reaction or lack of to this horrifying series of events. Many of us operate life through the coping skills we learned as children and that becomes the habitual position in response to anything triggering. If people are silent or they are going on with their lives which includes throwing parties and being merry, then that’s how they are coping. Denial is a defense mechanism that many of us unconsciously employ. Let’s trust in humanity and the fact that most human beings are impacted by tragedy and it’s not up to us to judge others for how that impact looks. If some of us are crying every day, and others are smiling, each to their own. We all can grieve however we want to. We all are united in our dream to have harmony and peace in this world.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at or her official website.

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