A New Lease On Life

It’s amazing what people are willing to put up with.

Since 2001, about 13,000 rockets have rained down on Israelis. Over 1,000 rockets were fired at Israel in the last year. We accepted it. The Israeli government accepted it. The world accepted it. American Jewry accepted it. Where was the outrage? Why was this acceptable? Why didn’t we care enough to take action?

What does it take for us to act?

We keep hoping that somehow it will stop. We hope for peace, for negotiations, for an interim peace agreement, a ceasefire. The rockets continue to come.

We all experience this in different aspects of our lives.

For years my business and personal bank accounts have been at a bank which charges high rates. It is a bank with which it is difficult to communicate and which has terrible customer service. Why did I stay?

Perhaps it is the path of least resistance. People will do a lot to avoid conflict. Oftentimes the more we suffer, the greater we perceive the conflict will be if we confront the source of our suffering. As our suffering grows so does the imagined conflict which we are avoiding. This increases our threshold for suffering since the alternative seems to grow worse and worse.

However, many of us accept being less than happy in order to avoid conflict. We settle for mediocrity in our jobs, in our relationships and more. Very few of us can make the bold changes that life requires to achieve what we seek. Very few of us are good at change.

Sometimes a line is crossed or an opportunity knocks and it is enough for us to take action we may have previously thought unthinkable.

The IDF killed Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Jabari was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against Israel.” According to one analyst, “Jabari was Netanyahu’s Bin Ladden.” Netanyahu had the shot and he took it.

The reaction from Gaza was to launch over a hundred rockets into Israel, including long-range weapons which reached Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Heeding the calls of the international community on the eve of a United Nations vote admitting the Palestinian Authority as a non-voting state, Israel stopped short of a ground offensive. Israel managed to have a military response while avoiding Israeli casualties. Not only might this be viewed as an effort to help incumbents in the upcoming Israeli elections, but having stopped when it did, Israel may be able to turn to the international community in the future and point to the end of 2012 saying, we stopped and tried it your way, now we will do it our way. Israel can not be expected to absorb attack after attack without reacting and now it has a card to play.

Last week I closed my bank accounts, having opened new accounts where the service is impeccable. I had set up a meeting with my banker at the old bank a week in advance. After waiting for half an hour I was told that he was too busy to meet with me. I decided that was it, I was leaving.

While opening the new bank account, I tried calling to see if they had received the necessary papers at the end of the week. My banker was out for the day. I left a message and sent an email. The next morning I was doing my Friday shopping and my cellphone rang. It was Sarah, my banker from the new bank.

“Sarah,” I said, “It’s your day off. Why are you calling me?”

“I saw that you tried to reach me yesterday and I had to come in to do some things so I wanted to call you to let you know everything is Ok so that you could go into Shabbat with peace of mind.”

Closing my bank accounts I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I was getting rid of something that had made me unhappy for years and I was taking control of my life.

While change is difficult, it is sometimes necessary if we are to achieve what we want out of life.

No one wants to risk a war, but sometimes it is a necessary risk for a greater good.

My wife and I recently decided to divorce. It is not a decision we came to lightly and it comes after having worked for years to save a marriage that was just not meant to be. It comes after years and years of living a life that was “good enough” despite us being extremely unhappy. It finally reached a point where we could not go on.

Now, we are building something better for ourselves and our children. We are working together to redefine our relationship as we continue to co-parent and create a new reality for ourselves in which we are already happier.

It takes an incredible amount of strength to negotiate. In business, in politics, in marriage, working together towards a solution to which both parties are able to agree is hard, hard work. Sometimes, when one side can not bare the situation anymore, war is unavoidable. However, when both sides have good will, we can negotiate a settlement which is beneficial to everyone.

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