ON AIR: Searching for the love & light in the fog of war with Silas Rose
The Oct 7th attack on Israel has ignited a new hot war in the middle east and a polarizing information war online. For many people around the world the conflict between Israel and Palestine touches old wounds of injustice as a cycle of religious violence repeats again and claims more innocent lives. If anything has been learned from this war it is that history is complex and good and evil are indistinguishable in the fog of war.
In this instalment of ON AIR Silas Rose, the host of Awake In Relationship, reflects on the unspoken grief at the centre of his Jewish identity and the prescient need to recognize and interrupt the chain reactions of suffering and violence, beginning with our own complex and sometimes paradoxical emotions.
If you enjoyed this episode of ON AIR have a listen to episode 050 ON AIR: Synthetic relationships and what makes us human with Silas Rose
Every now and then, usually when the spirit moves me, I’d like to publish a short monologue, which I call ON AIR. I use this as a self reflective pause, where I get to dig a little bit deeper into some of the topics that come on the show with guests, and also current events that impact the quality of our relationships.
Silas Rose 1:10
I’m sure many listening can relate to a sense of utter heartbreak as we witness a new hot war in the Middle East, and the senseless loss of innocent life. If Ive learned anything in the past month since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. It’s that the history on this conflict is incredibly complex and good and evil, are almost indistinguishable in the fog of war. Even in the best of times, our ability to handle complexity, and nuanced or paradoxical thoughts and feelings, really has been kind of compromised in the age of social media. As someone of a Jewish Canadian descent, I really find myself pulled in multiple directions right now. The war in Gaza has really ignited a political firestorm that Jews visa vie, the Jewish state are at the center of. For most my life, I really lived in ignorance of my ashkenazi heritage. Ive had the luxury of growing up in Canada, which is really a peaceful and prosperous land, where, for the most part, a plurality of religious, ethnic and cultural view points coexist without violence.
My mother and her family came from Sweden, and Scotland, she converted to Judaism shortly before I was born. This is probably to appease my father’s parents. My father, on the other hand, grew up in a very strict orthodox home, speaking Yiddish for the first four years of his life. I think it’s safe to say both of my parents were relatively agnostic. They were intellectuals and artists. So the Jewish faith was really conspicuously absent from my home. In fact, I might go so far as to say, there was an unspoken code of silence around my Jewish identity and my family’s history,
I didn’t really start to explore this until I left home and became aware of a unreconcilable and all encompassing grief that possessed me. It was like the gravity of a distant planet, pulling me in. Later on in my early 20s in therapy, I would come to refer to this feeling as my heavy Jewish karma. I eventually ended up doing some therapeutic retreats, at a center on Gabriola Island called Haven. On the first day of the program, I showed up in my usual scruffy attire of the time, which included a gray Stanfield work shirt, and train conductor overalls and had stripes on them. I was pretty skinny back then. Also I had a shaved head and scruffy beard. In a moment of radical honesty, which was kind of big back in the 90s, one of the participants commented to me that I looked like a concentration camp survivor. In the moment, I didn’t take this comment as an insult, but the words landed hard, because for the first time, my mysterious grief had some context.
My grandparents emigrated to Canada sometime in the early 1930s. With the help of my dad’s uncle, who was a fishmonger in Toronto, and Kensington Market. Iknow very little about the family that remained in eastern Poland. All I have are a few tattered photos with Yiddish scribbled on the back,. Presumably, they met their ultimate faint in Auschwitz, along with a million other Jews, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war. I can only imagine how it was for my grandparents to witness the horrors of the Holocaust from afar. The unspoken code of silence that followed was like a sarcophagus, that enshrined a most exquisite wound. Even today, it’s a place I rarely enter by choice. But lately, it’s been impossible to ignore,
I think almost every family system has some version of an unspeakable truth. Perhaps you can relate. The difficult work of healing really involves bringing these generational patterns of suffering and trauma into light. But the ight, or awareness is insufficient. We have to have the courage to interrupt these patterns. Most of human history is stained with the blood of tribal warfare, and religious violence. Only recently have we had the luxury to imagine something different, or form an opinion on the morality of war. These days, as we know, opinions are mass produced and easy to share. In addition to the kinetic war happening in Gaza, there’s also an information war being waged online, that is profoundly polarizing in a most familiar way. The only winners in that war are the algorithms that use our outrage to keep eyeballs on screens. In this regard, I am very much a conscientious objector opting out of the war of words. Now’s the time to hold space for the complexity of our emotions, attend to old wounds. it is the only place where we have agency to interrupt the cycle of violence.
I recently did an interview with Mark Silver, who’s a business coach, but also holds a Master’s in divinity and is a practicing Sufi, in this conversation, he talked about the practice and Remembrance, which is recalling the name of God our the divine in times of stress, and great uncertainty. I really see this as a call to never give up on the possibility of finding greater peace, love and sanity, not in spite of the darkness, but because of it. Thanks so much for tuning dear listener. Till next time, stay connected