Don’t Let Them Numb You To What’s Happening In Gaza

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readApr 20, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

One of the reasons I often pivot to poetry and emotion-laden prose in my commentary on Gaza is because it’s so very easy to let ourselves become numb to the horrors of what’s being done there day after day and month after month — but it’s so very, very important not to.

It would be so very easy to get overwhelmed and start letting one day of lies and atrocities blend into the next until it becomes this amorphous gray blob on the periphery of our attention. Reports like IDF sniper drones playing the sounds of distressed women and children to lure civilians out into the open and then shooting them, or Israeli officials ridiculously claiming they had no idea that blowing up a consulate building full of Iranian military officers would be seen as an escalation, have been coming out on a daily basis now, and it’s tempting to let yourself become overwhelmed and stop caring as much.

And it isn’t an accident that we are confronted with that temptation every day. Since day one the Israelis have been yanking public consciousness this way and that with astonishing atrocities, ridiculous denialism and high octane narrative spin, backed by the full might of the western empire and its peerlessly powerful propaganda machine. Every day we’re smacked in the face with new horrors, coupled with new statements from the Israeli regime taunting our sense of reality like “Heeheehee, did we do it? Who knows? No, we didn’t! But if we did it was good!” while western officials make vague obfuscatory statements that they need more information about each incident before taking a position and suggesting that the IDF needs to investigate itself to find out what happened. You’ll see them pour tons of energy into indignantly denying the very idea that Israel would ever attack a hospital, only to have them arguing that it’s fine and good for Israel to destroy every hospital in Gaza just weeks later.

This can break you, if you let it. It’s hard for the mind and heart to take such systematic pummeling, especially if you don’t understand that it is being done deliberately with a very specific goal in mind. The more westerners can be psychologically shoved into throwing up their hands and filing Gaza away in our mental “bad things in the world I try not to think about” drawer, the easier it is for Israel and its imperial backers to do the monstrous things they want to do there.

So I do what I can to help keep the reality of what’s happening in Gaza on the surface, not just in terms of the factual truth but the emotional truth of it as well. The horror. The suffering. That empathetic connection to the plight of our fellow human beings that can drive us to act, and to push for real change.

Don’t let these pricks numb you to what’s happening in Gaza. You can see plainly that that’s what they want, and you can see plainly what they’d stand to gain by pushing people into that state of numbness. So don’t give it to them. Ensure that, by the measure of at least one person, they fail toward that endeavor. And do what you can to ensure that they fail with others as well.

We’re not supposed to be unaffected by this sort of thing. We’re not supposed to be able to find a state of psychological comfort with genocide. It’s not natural, and it’s not right. Man-made nightmares unleashed upon the waking earth are supposed to disturb us.

Don’t let them take that away from you. Feelings are meant to be felt. Feel the grief. Feel the outrage. Feel the anger. Feel the pain. Let it come to you and say everything it wants to say to you, like you would with a small child telling you about their fears or their hurts. Write it down, sing it out, paint it, dance it, roar it into a pillow, throw rocks at it into a stream, whatever you can do to bring it into the world in a more tangible form. Let it wash through you, feel it completely until it has had its say, then get up, and keep fighting.

As we work our way into the monumental endeavor of creating a healthy world together, it’s not enough for us to be informed about what’s going on in the world — we’ve also got to have a mature emotional relationship with it. We don’t just need to have conscious minds, we need to have conscious hearts as well. If we don’t have a conscious relationship with our emotions, and if our emotions don’t have a conscious relationship with what’s going on in the world, then how can we hope to steer the world toward health? Caring and compassion are the only useful compass we have to navigate us there.

So shelter your caring from the efforts of the bastards to snuff it out, like a precious candle flame on a windy day. Even if we lose the battle in the short term, and even if we lose the war in the long term, at the very least you can deprive these freaks of that one little victory by continuing to care.


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