When Hamas militants in Gaza launched a massive surprise attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, it quickly became clear that their aim was to murder as many noncombatants as possible. In targeting places like schools, homes, a music festival, and a yoga retreat, it’s clear that they were intent on committing mass murder, specifically targeting those who meant them no harm. But, why commit such atrocities? What stories were the murderers telling themselves to justify in their own minds the slaughtering of over a thousand noncombatants that day?
You see, murder always requires the murderer to believe a story. Human beings need a reason, a justification, to engage in premeditated killing. For any action to qualify as premeditated, one must first think about and believe a story.
We all know the story believed by the German Nazis, that they deemed themselves to be a superior race and deemed Jews (and others) to be inferior. Without believing such a story of supremacism, the Nazis would never have gone to the trouble of murdering so many millions of people. In a similar manner, stories of Palestinian supremacism, Arab supremacism, and Islamic supremacism have been used by a variety of different groups to justify the murder of countless noncombatants for nearly a century. Yet, none of these stories of supremacism are true.
No ethnic, religious, national, or other group is inherently superior to any other, because superiority is a judgment — and judgments always depend on who is doing the judging. In reality, we human beings are all just different leaves and branches of the same family tree. In the family of humanity, Arabs and Jews are cousins.
So, what is the family of humanity to do when faced with murderousness rooted in supremacism? Certainly, everyone has the right to defend themselves when attacked. Yet, stories of the need to defend have been used to justify attacks on noncombatants in nearly every war ever fought. For instance, how many attacks on noncombatants, in how many wars, have been claimed as justified by the supposed need to “defend people’s liberty”?
When stories of defense lead to the attack of noncombatants, others can just as easily create their own stories of defense, which can lead them to “counterattack” noncombatants, which can lead to counter “counterattacks”, and so on, in a never-ending cycle. Clearly, such vicious cycles of violence can only damage the family tree of humanity. Clearly, when any part of a tree is damaged, that tree is being harmed.
You see, fear is a convincing liar, a liar that only cares for itself. Fear fuels anger, fuels rage, fuels hate,... Fear does not care what damage it causes nor whom it hurts. Fear only cares to maintain, replicate, and spread itself, deeming itself forever self-justified. For ultimately fear is a virus, a blight upon the tree of humanity. That is why, in order to stop believing lies, we must stop believing the stories of fear.
In truth, the stories of fear are far more a cause of than an indication of real danger. In truth, no story can justify the premeditated killing of noncombatants. In truth, no story can justify the murder of those who mean no harm, not even stories of defense. Actual defense can only happen when one is actually being attacked, not when one is merely reacting to the lies of fear.
Vengeance breeds vengeance and retaliation breeds retaliation because violence is incapable of bringing about true peace. True peace is the peace of the living, not the peace of the dead. Peace is the absence of conflict, not the absence of war. For a period of time, even a truce can qualify as the absence of war, all while the combatants act to intensify their conflict.
To pick one group in conflict over another is to pick one branch of a tree over another, while ignoring that the conflict itself is due to the tree being ill with the virus of fear. Is it not far saner for one to be pro-tree than only pro-branch?
To be in favor of true peace in the Middle East is to be both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. To be against true peace is to be anti-humanity. It is for this reason that we must shine the light of truth on the lies of Hamas, and the lies of Israel, and the lies of Russia, and the lies of Iran, and the lies of America,... We must shine the light of truth on the lies we tell ourselves and each other. For we are all aspects of a single family tree.
To heal the tree of humanity, we must love the entire tree, because love is the antidote to fear. In this moment, Israelis are in need of love. Gazans are in need of love. Ukrainians are in need of love. Russians are in need of love. It is the responsibility of the entire tree of humanity to nourish all of its branches with love, both in giving and in receiving, because that is precisely what allows the tree to be healthy. The light of love and truth is what allows the tree to flourish and experience true peace, the absence of conflict among the living.
For you to truly be either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, you must also be pro-truth, pro-love, pro-equality, pro-Arab, pro-Jew, pro-Muslim, and indeed pro-human. To support the flourishing of one branch, you must support the flourishing of the entire tree. That is the true nature of what it means for us to be leaves and branches of humanity, the human family tree. That is the true nature of our inherent equality.
So, choose love over fear. Choose truth over lies. Choose life over death. Choose equality over superiority. And, state your choice loudly and clearly. Let every militant group, every government, every politician, and indeed everyone in the world know your choice. Shine the light of love and truth upon those seeking to hide in the shadows of fear and falsehood. And, yes, that includes the aspects of yourself seeking to hide as well. Support everyone everywhere in replacing fear with love, regardless of which branch they are on. For we are all one family, one tree of life, and it is up to each of us to support the glorious flourishing of humanity.