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My utter failure to write about the public health implications of war
This week I wrote and re-wrote a YLE article to describe the complex humanitarian emergency unfolding due to Hamas’s attacks and counteracts. A dire public health crisis is unfolding front and center.
I have written at least a dozen drafts. Had many conversations with Jewish and Palestinian friends gracious enough to provide constructive feedback. I’ve stayed up many nights. My copy editor is about to wring my neck. My toddlers keep knocking on my office door.
I just cannot get this one quite right.
The cascade of this assault on humanity is leaving me speechless. Balancing the complex nuance and emotions while honoring the dead and suffering leaves me paralyzed.
The three words “public health crisis” don’t do justice to the darkness and suffering.
No words can do it justice. How can a string of letters:
Describe the extent of human lives lost in a terror attack 10 times more extensive than 9/11?
Depict the ruthless, brutal terror from Hamas that’s not only holding 150 Israelis hostage but the entire Gaza population hostage?
Paint a landscape of truly inhumane living conditions? Not only now, but conditions fed with neglect for years from within?
Reflect on the healthcare workers’ agonizing choice between staying with the most vulnerable patients in Northern Gaza or fleeing for their own lives? And their acts of heroism to stay behind?
Depict the (almost) certainty of ongoing suffering from pathogen outbreaks, mass displacement, and trauma for future generations?
Back the health burden with data if the “truth” is buried in the infestation of misinformation?
Everyone is losing. Every civilian with a heart is losing from the terror wreaking havoc physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Locally and worlds away. Short- and long-term.
So, I returned to a key lesson I learned during the pandemic: Words are not always what’s needed. Listening. Connecting. Processing. A space to feel. Glimmers of hope. That’s what’s needed.
So, I’m placing this YLE piece aside and doing what I can in my public health role, with the acknowledgment that I have the privilege to do so halfway around the world. And I’m going into the weekend with a piece of hope: this week’s negotiations opened pathways for humanitarian aid.
Take care of yourself.
Much love, Katelyn