Guilt may be good if it helps Gazans

By Olivia Turner | Opinion Editor

For those who keep up with most of the main news outlets, for those who scroll through their socials and even for those who just happen to glimpse at the Apple News headlines every once in a while, I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows about the war going on in Gaza.

This specific conflict, which has been ongoing since October, has been labeled a fight between Israel and Hamas, but the group that has been dealt the most damage is the Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire. With everything that’s being said about the war, it can be difficult to know what to take as truth. One thing is obvious, though, and it’s that Palestinians are innocent people who don’t deserve to lose their loved ones or their own lives.

It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch the reactions of those around me concerning the conflict happening overseas. Some have become frenzied by the chaos. Some are indifferent. And some, like me, feel a sense of guilt.

Sure, it may initially sound silly to feel guilty about something so much bigger than me — not to mention, completely out of my control. There’s actually a term for this: maladaptive guilt.

Every time I open my Instagram, the first thing on my feed is another child shaking and bloodied from the most recent bombings; another parent weeping over the body of their dead child; another journalist with a face weathered by war begging their followers to do something, anything, to help the innocent, suffering Palestinians — how could I not feel a pang in my heart?

In other words, it feels wrong to be living my life safe and sound every day with everything I need while innocent Palestinians watch their lives crumble right before their eyes. Why should these people suffer while I continue to live a good, peaceful life without a second thought?

Though sickening, I think this guilt is a good thing. It shows that I am a human and that I actually care. With most people in the western world living in their own little bubble most of the time, it seems the capacity to care about such faraway things has grown rare.

It alarms me when others seem indifferent to what is happening. The desensitization we have adopted as a society is astonishing — to see such violence and go unbothered for the rest of the day. I find myself wondering how one can know that people — human beings just like you and me — are going through hell without having any feelings on the matter.

With all the horrible things happening, it honestly feels like there’s nothing I can do as a student and that nothing I can do will ever truly matter and be able to help these people. I have no power, and I don’t have much money either. Acts such as protesting and boycotting seem futile.

The truth is that as normal people on our own, we can’t really do anything that will put a stop to the bombings, the injury, the genocide. However, as a collective, we can put in an effort to attain peace by providing humanitarian aid, writing to Congress for a cease-fire, supporting Palestinian-owned businesses or even just spreading the word on how to help if you don’t have much to give.

In the grand scheme of the war, these acts may seem small, but the truth is that these Gazans will take all the help they can get. And if we are doing what we can to help, that’s what matters. We can all make an impact, but only if we try.

So, the next time you think of the horrors in Gaza — or any other kinds of unrest in our world right now, for that matter — use that sense of conviction as fuel to lend a helping hand in whatever way you can.