My daughter said, 'Mama it hurts too much when I think about Palestine. Should I try to stop thinking about it and stop feeling it?'
I told her, 'Your heart is a muscle. If you want to have a strong heart, you cannot shut down or hide from the difficult feelings. It is an honor of a lifetime to feel the grief and suffering of another. If you have been chosen to feel it, then you have to step up, lean in, and feel it."
I told her, "you don't get a strong heart by protecting your heart. You get a strong heart by 'lifting' these painful and difficult feelings. And just like at the gym, you can't go in lifting 100lbs of grief and sorrow, it will injure you and leave you no good for anyone... at first you will only be able to handle 10lbs of grief and sorrow... but keep showing up, keep feeling... keep breaking... Every time you heart breaks, it strengthens."
I told her, "Yes, don't be afraid to let your heart break for another human's suffering... in such instances do not protect your heart. This is what makes you human. But know that is not for the undisciplined or the faint at heart... If you agree to stay open, to not shut down and to lift these painful feelings, then you have to commit to holding space for your pain. You have to be fiercely self-compassionate and gentle with yourself. You have to pace yourself.
I told my daughter, "the work of grief is the work of activism and of soul making. It is deep and profound. It's not about fleeting moments of empathy, but a deep and lifelong commitment to compassion and advocacy. It's a promise to feel the pain and the sorrow of the world and know that you have been chosen as one of the people on this earth through which past, present, personal and collective grief will be addressed, metabolized and healed. It is a noble act and that requires a strong will and brave heart.
I told her, "So no, don't stop feeling... because the future of humanity is literally in the hands of people like you... people like you who feel pain when others hurt.... Who stay connected to humanity when hate seems to be trending.... The only hope for humanity is in the hands of people like you who are devastated by what is happening in Palestine right now... people like you who confront the painful truths about our world and let that truth pierce them deeply enough so that they are moved to do something to correct it.”