Tess Has Opinions

I don’t know how we keep on living our lives: thoughts on the current Gaza conflict

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I could not function at work today. Maybe it’s a case of the Mondays, I said. Maybe it’s the heat, the fact that I’m tired. That’s what I told people, because shit like I can’t sit here designing a marketing strategy while there are people dying in Palestine is not likely to sit well with your new boss. No one believes you when you spout stuff like that.

I don’t blame them to be honest. Here in the UK, we’re so separate, we’re not under threat. And not just from the Israeli-Palestine conflict, from any conflict. The worst thing we had to worry about today was the fucking flash-flooding in Sussex.

“Jamie Davis, 17, of Ickenham, west London said the downpours, with flashing lightning and loud thunderclaps, began at 09.00 BST and lasted for at least 45 minutes.

“My back garden is completely flooded. The drains are bubbling up and we can’t flush the toilet,” he said.”

Sure, that’s bad news and all, but it really just paints a picture of our cushy little lives over this side of the ocean.

Yes, we are all aware of what is happening. We’re watching the news, some of us are praying for the people in Gaza, Jon Snow (man of legend) touched us all with one of the most brilliant pieces of honest and emotional journalism I’ve ever witnessed. As great as it is for us that we are sheltered from conflict, does it mean that we are desensitized to it?

We’re still going to work, we’re still making dinner plans, we’re cheerily wishing our Muslim friends Eid Murabak while across the pond other Muslims aren’t having a very happy end-of-Ramadan, thank you very much. Israelis too, of course, but Palestinian casualties far outnumber the Israelis’ (however many of those are Muslim, who even knows; that’s not the point anyway).

The actual point is that I found it hard to keep my mind off the conflict today. I don’t know why today in particular was my day, I wasn’t really thinking about it yesterday. I don’t know why I wasn’t thinking about the shit going on in Ukraine, perhaps because Gaza’s been more prominent since last week, maybe because of Eid. It just envelopped me, for some reason. I realized I didn’t understand why this was happening. I knew the history, I understood the sides to the story, but I just couldn’t (and still can’t) understand why a fucking piece of territory is valued more than human lives. I know about Israel’s reasons. I know about Hamas’ reasons. I don’t care if I sound like a privileged and naive white girl, but it’s all fucking bullshit.

It saddens me and it frustrates me. And it pisses me off further that I can’t do anything. I have donated to the Red Cross, I have attempted to raise awareness and encourage education and communication on the subject, but short of actually signing up for the Red Cross I’m pretty limited. And those volunteers are much better people than I am. I am too afraid to put myself in the middle of a war zone in order to help others, so please excuse me while I indulge myself in some self-preservation over here.

But even though we can’t do much, even though we apparently just have to keep going in our daily routines, can we at least as a nation try to allow people to acknowledge and express their feelings about this current crisis, and any other crisis for that matter? If I’m having trouble keeping my mind off the conflict, I want to be able to talk about it, even if I am at work. I don’t appreciate being told I have a deadline to think about. I fucking know that, okay? I don’t want to be asked whether I have family in Gaza. No I don’t, actually, it doesn’t mean I am any less concerned about the massive amount of people who are dying.

I get that the world goes on when other parts of the world are in trouble. But sometimes it’s hard to push it out of your mind and concentrate on mundane tasks that you feel serve no actual purpose in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes it feels impossible to accept that you live in a world where hundreds of people are being blown up by missiles and you’re sitting at a desk trying to negociate a fucking advertising budget.

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