While speaking with a college student on Thursday morning, I reflected on the fact that I did not take a stand or speak out publicly about the recent horrific attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
I shared my sadness and outrage on my personal Facebook page and spoke about it with friends and family, but I did not take a public stand as a mental health professional. I am now left to ponder what stopped me. As a psychologist, someone who is invested in the safety of all people, and as a Jewish woman, why did I choose to stay silent on this?
What Can I Add that Would Matter?
Sometimes I am struck by the sheer amount of comments and different perspectives that explode all over social media and news outlets following an unspeakable act such as this. And I wonder to myself, “What could I possibly add that would be new or different? Is it enough to just add my voice if it echoes what others are already saying? Does it matter if I take a stand and speak out against things that I cannot imagine anyone condoning?”
With the execution of 11 Jewish men and women who were attending services in what most of us believe to be the safest place around, their place of worship, I decided that I must say something now. A little late, but hopefully not too late.
The feelings are still extremely raw and strong for me. And I suspect that if you are reading this, you may share similar feelings of outrage, fear, sadness and disbelief. However, that is not what I am going to write about.
I want to talk briefly about how I decided that this was worth speaking (or writing) about publicly. I was inspired by University of Tampa student Juliette Poulin, Class of 2021, who so eloquently expressed her thoughts, which echo my own, in her letter to the University of Tampa’s administration.
You can read her letter by Clicking Here.
The shooting in Pittsburg is the worst act of antisemitism that has happened on U.S. soil, EVER! For me and for many Jewish people, it is reminiscent of the Holocaust and is quite simply terrifying. A man walked into a sacred place of peace, worship and community and gunned down 11 people that he didn’t know personally because of their religious affiliation.
I cannot and will not write about or take a stand on everything that happens in Tampa, our country or the world. I will, however, take a stand when something touches my core in a positive or negative way.
I believe it is very important to balance taking a stand on certain things with not speaking out about everything. For me, this is one of those times that I believe taking a stand is critical.
I have a Jewish identity. I sometimes write about observing Jewish holidays, and anyone who knows me personally or has heard me speak knows that I frequently reference “being Jewish from New York.” This is obviously a story that affected me deeply and has encouraged a lot of talk regarding it.
I believe that being self-expressive about incidents in the news or even ideas can be great for your mental health. Doing so can open constructive dialogues that allow people from different walks of life to share their ideas and opinions.
On the other hand, we should each also take into account the importance of being selective about what we take a stand on. There are many topics out there that are sensitive and are sure to be touchy subjects.
During tragic incidents like the one we saw at Tree of Life, it can be hard to deal with so many overwhelming emotions. Know that my team and I at Rice Psychology Group in Tampa can provide the guidance and encouragement needed to help you express what it is that’s bothering you. Contact us today if you would like to talk.