Tell people you’re traveling to Israel, and you hear breath suck in, heartbeats skip, and then these words: is it safe?
The relentless media with their depiction of terrorist attacks, stabbings, car-rammings, bus-bombings and kidnappings, and it’s no wonder people envision the Holy Land as a veritable front line of religious battle.
It’s nothing like that.
Yes, there are attacks, and yes, there is political argument and debate over who is entitled to what piece of holy land, but Israel is a remarkable and peace-filled place.
The sleek Jerusalem stones almost whisper to you as you whisk past. Children play in cozy alleyways and smile for your clicking camera as you pass.
The international road that took us from Jerusalem through the West Bank to Israeli territory known as Ein Gedi (magnficient hiking) and the Dead Sea, with the mountainous landscape of Jordan so clear in view, was quiet.
We passed through the checkpoint with ease because, yes, we don’t look the part of terrorist. Darker skin, darker hair, license plates and passports with markings to signify Arabic affiliation and you might be stopped or searched.
It isn’t fair, but it’s real life.
I rode a Jeep one mile from the Syrian border, and I didn’t worry about being kidnapped or killed by ISIS or Al-Qaeda, even though they were right there.
The plane ride home was long and boring. Twelve hours over the frigid north Atlantic, with some bumps at 36,000 feet elevation. I watched five movies. We hardly slept.
And when we landed on American soil, and my phone reeled through all the posts and emails I couldn’t receive overseas, I saw people talking about “prayers for California” and “San Bernardino.”
I didn’t know. I was literally suspended in air, oblivious to what was going on on the ground back home.
And then, waiting in the frenetic American airport where our connecting flight would eventually be canceled due to mysterious weather, I read an article that revealed we’ve had more mass shootings in our country this year than we’ve had days on the calendar.
Is it safe to go to Israel?
I wonder, is it safe to stay home?
Safe is a relative term and one we cannot relate to until it happens to us. Stop reading the news, I say. It’s all lies and misquotes.
Well, not really, as some of my dear friends are journalists. But I’ve been thinking lately that I need to start a news source called The Good News that shows all the happy happenings, the way people help one another, the love that abounds in this world.
I’ve said it before, we manifest what we put out there. Focus on feeling danger, and you will face it indeed.
But when you believe that most people are just and good and kind at the core, that is what you will find.
Planes crash. People go on shooting sprees because of “work-induced rage.” (I don’t understand that term. What kind of rage leads someone to kill 14 and wound countless others?)
These mass shootings terrify me. But I cannot focus or fixate. I cannot let them ruin my inner equilibrium. I must focus instead on doing good, being good, believing in goodness.
I feel unbelievably safe in Israel.
I feel unbelievably safe at home.
It is only when I let the scary stories, the horrors and terrors and sadness that abounds, to seep inside my smile, that’s when I start to worry. And fear. And stay up at night concerned for what might happen but usually never does.
I feel safe because I believe I can be safe. And no one can take that away from me, no matter where I go.