Finding Resilience Through the Fatigue

I’m hearing fatigue lately, in many conversations I’m having; and, if I’m honest, feeling it in myself. 

Fatigue that makes me want to turn off the news as the Russian assault on Ukraine enters its fourth week and as the horrors on our news feeds seem to only increase by the day (the AP’s reporting out of Mariupol this week, including children being buried in mass graves, will stay with me for a long time). 

Fatigue I experience about restrictions as we’ve passed the two-year mark since the pandemic state-of-emergency first locked us down. Even as much is re-opening, still over 1,000 Americans are dying every day from COVID and friends like Alex Goldstein at @FacesOfCovid continue to document their lives. 

Fatigue I feel for our leaders and activists right here in Boston who mobilized in 2015 to support Syrian refugees, then again for asylum seekers, since last summer for our Afghan allies, and who are now preparing to receive and support Ukrainian refugees.   

Fatigue I feel in our work with colleagues and partners as another year means yet another round of vicious campaigns to demonize Israel, Israelis and Jewish-Americans on local campuses; and as they prepare for what sometimes feel like inevitable “rinse and repeat” fights against those who seek simplistic (and biased, ahistorical) solutions to the complex and challenging realities of the world. 

This fatigue is natural. I certainly recognize myself in the voices of friends and family who tell me they need – or can’t bring themselves – to turn off the news, to stop checking twitter, etc… We all need a break. As someone said to me this week: “We’re lurching from crisis to crisis. Is this the new normal?”  

I hope not. 

This week I’m holding the experience we had on Wednesday, as so many of us in Boston joined our friends in Dnipro for a live reading of the megillah on Purim from their Golden Rose synagogue (a space many of us have been in over the years and where I’ve had the honor to be called to the Torah). It was emotional to see people we know, gathered to celebrate this joyous holiday, knowing that they are under fire, on the front lines, in dire jeopardy.  

I can’t even begin to imagine their fatigue.  

I have no particular words of wisdom right now other than to say that it’s ok – for those of us who can - to take a Shabbat from all this; a time out, a respite, the break that we all need.  

But I’m reminded as well of something I often say at the end of our study tours to Israel, after we’ve met our inspiring Israeli and Palestinian friends – who we’ve come to know and support through Boston Partners for Peace - who work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding and dignity. They are on the frontline, building a better future for themselves and their families and for their neighbors. They are the resilient ones. And they need to keep living and enduring even if we walk away. So, I ask, who am I to give up on these people? Who are we to walk away as long as they are resolved to keep toiling together? 

I admire and honor this resilience and persistence: Of the people of Ukraine; of our Israeli and Palestinian partners; of the refugees arriving here, and of the members of our community who volunteer and work with them; of the students who are dealing with hostility on campus and the professionals who support them; of the families still dealing with loss from COVID and the folks who are providing them care and those who keep documenting this loss.   

And I will take this Shabbat. I need it. And I encourage you to do whatever your personal respite is. It’s okay. We all need it. And I know that together we can be inspired by this resilience and find the resilience within us that we need to stay with all of these people, and to keep doing this work with them.  

We don’t always get to choose the challenges we face. We do get to choose how we face them. I, and we, choose to face them together. I hope you do as well. 

Shabbat Shalom, 

Jeremy