At first thought, coping with a hopeless situation is pretty tough.The essence of hopelessness is that no doing can change the fact that there is no light at the end of tunnel.
Yet Yalom’s book “ Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death” comes to mind. The author provides philosophical insights, suggests cognitive approaches and unravels psychodynamics which make thinking about Death more bearable, at least for me.
Inspired by Yalom, I will reflect a bit on how I have been trying to deal with the hopelessness of the present war in the Middle East, in which I am caught.
1-No longer my generation
Each generation has its own time in the drivers’ seat. I have less skin the game than people whose children are serving in the forces. I did my time; I fought in a brutal war and my kids served in the forces in very unstable times. I was relieved of reserve duty when my wife died, my son is abroad and my daughter, now a mother, no longer serves in reserves.This conflict is now owned by the present generation. And even if I could do something, is this really my generation’s turn at the steering wheel?
2-Living in the shadow
I am an atheist in a country with a very powerful religious lobby which tries to dictate how I live my life. Yet, nowhere is it easier to live a secular life than in Israel, because there is a secular shadow reality which serves as black market economy serving the vast majority of Israelis who are indeed non believers. Herein is the clue: I need to look at another dimension of existence within the present reality, where I can live in my own personal peace.
3-Mild Dissociation is functional
I belong to the political left, which has been decimated since the assassination of Rabin, the realities of the mid east conflict, and demographics. Yesterday, I was in the Carmel Market when missiles exploded overhead causing total pandemonium. As we lay on the ground waiting to see if our time has come, a fruit vendor yelled out: I hope that missile goes up some leftist’s ass”. It is very typical of me to say, “I am a leftist, and I am right next to you, idiot”. But I did not. I feared the vendor’s intolerance more than the missile. Later on, I asked myself if the political left has any answers, and the answer was: probably not. At that moment, I felt the helplessness, which is different than thinking about it.
Feeling the helplessness breeds mild dissociation, which can be very functional.