Storm chasers run into the storm. Maybe they like adventure, the thrill of danger, scientific inquiry, or just want to get “the shot.” I am more of a cozy-up-to-the-fireplace-on-a-stormy-night, or hide-in-the-basement-during-tornado-warnings kind of Midwestern girl.
Every trip I ever took to Israel was bookended by a period of anxiety leading up to the trip, then relief when I returned. Phew! I survived potential terror attacks or war, or both! I waved my Israel flag and lived to tell the tale. I secretly half consciously judged people who lived here or moved here with an, “I would never do that!” But I did.
In some ways, moving to Israel is like chasing the storm. I headed towards the war-torn Middle East and into the tiny tract of land that stirs up a firestorm of love and rage. I am here indeed.
If you are in the US or in front of a TV screen watching US news, you are likely watching the footage of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem with a split screen of violence at the Gaza border. This may stir up a mix of fear, worry, excitement, joy, sadness, all sorts of emotions that are real, but disconnected from what is happening. My intention is not to diminish the importance of these historically significant events, celebrations, and tragedies, but I do want to offer a vantage point from the inside looking out.
I believe it is easier to be here in the every day of Israel than to be a watcher of the media coverage of it. We don’t actually believe the news media portray “truth” or a version of “real events” do we? This seems so old fashioned, yet kind of nostalgically sweet. If only it were that simple!
Maybe popular news networks are storm chasers too, kicking up dust and debris, trying to get the shot. Nothing is ever as it seems. Everything is a cropped part of a more complicated picture. Nothing is black and white, except for the print on the newspaper itself.
And we should ask ourselves what we are seeking in our consumption of the news. The most noble intention is to be good citizens, who make well informed decisions. In the lesser noble sense, we like the entertainment and shock value, to help us feel alive or at least productively distracted.
A good storm chaser will come prepared. Let’s do the same with the media storm. Figure out what we are looking for. Seek out multiple sources from different viewpoints. Let’s extract our own truth, and recognize that most often without chasing the storm ourselves, we are not given the full picture. And if we can, let’s live our own news, not someone else’s.
What might a storm chaser find at the center of a raging cyclone? A calmer region, known as the eye of the storm. In the eye of my storm, I find a sense of peace, seeing things for what they are, a certain kind of clarity. My clarity is fostered by my daily joy here. There is so much life here in Tel Aviv, yes, strife too, but mostly life.