So much 'us' and 'them,' so little nuance. Where's the humanity?

BRATTLEBORO — In the public discourse of the Israeli-Gaza conflict, I am struck by how few comments I have heard that represent both-and thinking - not only in local news and opinion outlets, but everywhere.

Is it not possible to hold both the sorrow for the merciless attacks on Israeli civilians and the rampant killing of Palestinians?

Except for those in the most extreme camps of this bloody debate, I cannot imagine that people who speak for one side or the other are actually "OK" with the incredible loss of life, not to mention the terror and trauma of those who are surviving. Why is this not acknowledged even when an opinion on a particular side is expressed?

At the center of this are human beings who laugh, cry, love, play, learn, work, and try to live, just as we all do. Not a faceless mass of "them" but actual individual people.

To me, this seems absent in public dialogue. There is so much sweeping "us" and "them" with little to no nuance. Is it any wonder that violence (physical and verbal) toward Jews and Muslims is escalating?

On the local level, I have heard numerous stories of members of our community who are Jewish not being treated as such, but in ways that are harmful and that seem to dehumanize them, as nameless "others" in the us-vs-them dichotomy.

And, though it was not local to Brattleboro, there was the cold-blooded shooting of three Palestinian students in Burlington. There may be more local incidents of "othering" our community members who are Muslim that I have not heard about.

Why? Why in a community that prides itself on inclusion are we falling to this level?

Why are we not holding it all - the pain, fear, anger, and all the hard emotions - in such a way that we continue to see each member of our community as the human being that they are?

A friend recently mentioned, "Act from your values and not your beliefs," and I am going to repeat this multiple times every day. I am going to commit to not thinking and talking from the hill of my opinions and try to meet others in the valleys where we can meet one another, human-to-human.

I know I will often fail in doing so, but I will keep trying.

For me, striving for justice and freedom is not mutually exclusive to maintaining this commitment. I think it is the only way we can truly do so.

This Voices Letters from readers was submitted to The Commons.

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