Floorish Newletter 🏳️🏴󠁑󠁦󠁷󠁑󠁲󠁿 Choosing Sides

Welcome to the tenth edition of the Floorish newsletter dedicated to providing you with insightful data, ideas and views on diversity, equity and inclusion. In this newsletter, taking no more than 3 minutes of your time, I aim to keep you informed and inspired with thought-provoking content, practical tips and inspiring stories.

When I first met my partner, I couldn’t understand why she occasionally chose not to mention her Israeli or Jewish background. Back then, I had limited knowledge of the Israel-Palestine situation, and I confess that even now, my comprehension remains limited. However, it wasn’t until the recent outbreak of conflict and the widespread demonstrations, with everyone passionately voicing their opinions, that I began to grasp the complexities.

Imagine living your daily life in a peaceful country while your family is in a war-torn one. It’s an experience I’ve thankfully never had to endure, but I can only imagine the constant state of anxiety and trauma that would come from being bombarded with distressing news. Even in England I now feel a need to be cautious, to protect my family. As a woman and a lesbian, I’ve always been mindful of my safety, but this adds a whole new dimension. The war, even if it’s only in words exchanged by people and on the news or talk shows, suddenly feels much closer to home. This sentiment is particularly underscored by the recent surge in reported anti-Semitic hate crimes, a deeply concerning development.

In the age of social media dominance and carefully curated public personas, our leaders, politicians, and influencers often feel compelled to deliver swift, explicit opinions immediately after significant events. However, this immediate reaction to complex issues only exacerbates the problem, as it oversimplifies the nuances of conflicts like the Israel-Palestine situation. Oversimplified, black-and-white narratives paint one side as righteous and the other as wrong. This can lead to the dehumanisation of the “other” side, making it easier to rationalise extreme actions. Additionally, people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs, known as confirmation bias, further perpetuates this polarised perspective. Moreover, the emotional toll of conflict can cloud our judgment, making it difficult to recognise the nuanced shades of grey in complex situations.

The need for individuals to pick a side is often driven by a desire for clarity, a sense of belonging, or fear.

  • Clarity In today’s information age, we are inundated with countless narratives and perspectives from various sources. This constant influx of information can be overwhelming, leading people to choose sides based on what is readily accessible and easy to understand. Social media platforms, in particular, often expose individuals to content that aligns with their existing beliefs, potentially reinforcing their views and simplifying complex issues. As a result, people may form opinions based on the information they encounter, even if it doesn’t encompass the full range of perspectives.
  • Belonging Belonging is an intrinsic human need. During times of conflict, people often join a side or group to feel a sense of community and shared identity. This can provide a comforting and reassuring feeling of being on the same page as those who share similar beliefs, values, or goals. This is especially appealing during turbulent times because in a world marked by uncertainty, being part of a like-minded community can provide a source of strength and unity. It creates a feeling of camaraderie and shared purpose, which can be comforting when facing challenges or conflicts.
  • Fear The fear of the unknown is a powerful motivator, especially during times of conflict. People often seek safety and stability in the face of uncertainty. This fear can drive individuals to align with one side of a conflict, believing it to be the only way to ensure their own and their loved ones’ future security. The fear-driven alignment with one side in a conflict is often a survival instinct that emerges in response to the perceived threats and uncertainties of war and conflict. While it can provide a sense of security, it can also contribute to the perpetuation of conflict by reinforcing the “us versus them” mentality.

Our recent experiences have underscored the pressing need for understanding and compassion in our interconnected world. During a visit to a familiar cafΓ©, my partner noticed a poster on the wall with negative connotations about Israel. This prompted her to compose an email to the establishment, where she explained the complexities of the ongoing conflict and the discomfort she felt when speaking Hebrew in such an environment.

Further encounters highlighted the nuances of these difficult times. At our beloved bakery, the kind woman who sells us our bread, originally from Iran, was aware of my partner’s Israeli background, leading to a conversation about the shared tragedies of war and our common humanity. Even during our regular multi-cultural dinners at the community centre, where diversity is celebrated, we couldn’t help but notice a woman wearing a Palestinian shawl. Suddenly, we felt a heightened sense of caution.

In this context, it becomes evident that genuine progress emerges from our willingness to embrace the subtleties, complexities, and shades of grey that define the world. Furthermore, we have a collective responsibility to extend our empathy not only to those directly impacted by the conflict but also to the individuals in our daily lives who hold personal ties to the region. Whether they are our colleagues, friends, or neighbours, many are grappling with the emotional weight of this situation, which can easily seep into their daily lives.

By providing a listening ear, we offer essential support and foster an environment of compassion in the midst of this complex and emotionally charged issue. In a world divided, the strength of empathy serves as a poignant reminder of our interconnectedness through our shared humanity.

I hope these insights have sparked your curiosity and I invite you to share any data, ideas or views you believe should be highlighted in future newsletters. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Warm regards,

Floor Martens

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