I grew up in a place that lives, breathes and spits politics all day long.
Israelis aren't shy in expressing their political opinions even if they will lead to a full on debate or a heated argument. I have entered many-a-cabs in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and exited them knowing much more about the way the driver view the world and Israel's Arabic neighbors than I would have liked. I attended peace protests in Tel Aviv as early as my teen years, and one of my most prominent experiences of collective grief and community was when the political leader in Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a fanatic who had extreme opposing political views to Rabin, and was looking to end a promising peace protest with that extreme murder act. He succeeded in his goal. In fact, I believe that murderous act is one of the leading causes of the enormous polarization in Israel today and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis that only grew deeper since. That tragic major incident, and other countless experiences I've had or witnessed in Israel - a conflict zone which was also the only democracy in the region - primed me to be a bit of a cynic. Even as a young idealist.
When I moved to the USA, I didn't bother with politics much. I was nineteen and too into-my-own-shit to even think about any community other than my theatre community. And I heard the slogan 'Don't talk about religion and politics' many MANY times. And so... in my attempt to take on the American identity as my own- I followed along and didn't occupy myself with politics much. Quite honestly - at the time, it didn't seem like the political issues in the U.S. were of 'life or death.' Not nearly like the ones I was raised with in the middle east.
Don't get me wrong - I lived in NYC and was fairly aware of the presidency at the time and had my own opinions on it, but only in 2008 I actually became more involved in politics: Obama swept my off my feet with his charisma, intelligence, message of hope, and efficient creative campaigning. I was an early supporter and I remember taking the train to Pennsylvania to knock on people's doors, encouraging them to vote, and feeling so pumped and excited to be part of a movement. Me! A loner, rebel of sorts who hated being part of any crowd or any trend... suddenly loved being part of a large community, and striving for it to be BETTER.
I guess that's the door that politics open to us - being inspired enough to ask the question 'how do we want our community to operate?'
After the last four years - I would say that while I am still an idealist at heart... I am a realist in mind, and have begun asking much deeper and harder questions about community and its role in society, about capitalism and its dangers of greed and neglect, and about democracy and its fragility.
In two days, we could have the grand finale of the last four years that have shaken this country and the world to its core. Or it could only be an intermission and the political future may look even grimmer. Or maybe some other outcome I cannot foresee...
What I know for sure is change happens first WITHIN: Ask yourself 'how do you want your community to function in society? What morals or values do you want your leadership to follow? What makes a great leader?' And answer those questions with a strong action: The action to VOTE.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman