My husband woke me up to tell me he had a dream. He dreamt that someone knocked at the door and when he opened, he found standing there 2 sisters of a close friend of ours. I told him it could not be, since our friend has a sister and a brother. His response was “Well, you can’t trust dreams any more.” Indeed, we all dreamt that the crazy carnage in Ukraine would be over by now. Yet, the war is still raging and we are bombarded with views of shelling and destruction of entire cities. Images of human suffering, death and heroism are flashed constantly on mainstream and social media. Streams of refugees, mainly women, children and the elderly, are arriving at countries bordering Ukraine. We can see shock, pain, fear, and helplessness as the trauma of what they experience is setting in. Not since the Second World War have scenes like this been seen in Europe. Not since the Second World War has one nation invaded a peaceful nation without provocation or aggression toward the aggressor. Most of the nations of the world are trying to stop the aggression by economic means, by isolation and by crying foul. But where is the responsible adult who is going to get up and stop the aggressor?
What exactly is a responsible adult? You will be utterly amused and surprised what I found when I looked on the internet to find out what is meant by this phrase. Did you know that there are courses in becoming a responsible adult? For only $95 you can study online for a certificate of “Responsible Adult” – no kidding! There is a site that gives 10 signs that you have become a responsible adult:
Looking at this list, I am truly amazed. True, those goals are nice to strive for in a cushy spoiled society which caters to individual self-fulfillment. When I was thinking of a responsible adult, I was looking for examples of leadership, of raising one’s voice for justice and against aggression, for social fairness and standing up against bullying and oppression. I guess I live in a dream world, a place that only cares about how an individual is seen in the environment of social climbing. Another website suggests that it is important to give a “nice firm handshake when you are in a professional environment or meeting someone for the first time.” All I can say to that is “Vanity of vanities said Ecclesiastes, vanity, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2).
Contemplating the term Mature Adult, I think that one of the most important attributes needed is courage. The one and only leader these days who fits the bill is the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. He did not take a course, or buy the complete box set of Responsible Adult. He does not go and stomp his feet and declare “I am a responsible adult,” he just is. He acts like one when he stays in his capital which is under constant bombardment, and his behavior is an example to his nation. He talks to parliaments in Britain and Canada, as well as Congress in the United States, about the suffering of his people and the injustice of the Russian invasion. He pleads to the world for military and humanitarian aid to help his country to survive. He is met with standing ovations for his courage and care. But standing ovations do not feed the hungry or stop the carnage.
We all have to become responsible adults and start acting. I realize that not everyone can pick up and go to help fight, and perhaps that would not be exactly a responsible act, but we should each attempt to do what we can around us. We can apply our own strength – not physical but professional, or any other abilities we may have, in order to ameliorate the suffering. Check whether there are refugees in your area who need clothing, bedding, food, and basic cosmetics. Seek out volunteer associations, and contact them to find out if they need any help. Here in my city of Karmiel we have already about 60 families housed in a nonfunctioning hotel, which is now their home. The student residences will be housing the next wave of refugees to arrive here. We are collecting bedding, clothing, and donations to ease their acclimation.
Unfortunately, the emotional trauma and loss they have suffered will still fester even if they are safe now. I am hard at work with the Israeli Arts Therapies association (of which I am a member) to recruit all our Russian and Ukrainian speaking therapists to staff emergency phone lines in collaboration with Mashabim, the trauma center that Prof. Mooli Lahad, my hero, my model, and an extraordinary Responsible Adult, has established to treat trauma. He and the people trained by him are there everywhere in the world when there are natural disasters or man-made disasters. Some of our younger members are already in Ukraine and Poland, giving trauma first-aid and teaching local volunteers methods of intervention. My contribution is to create a Resilience Kit with simple art materials for parents to use with their children. The materials are specifically chosen for use in activities that reduce anxiety and fear. Besides coloring materials and journaling book, the kit will have a soap-bubble blowing kit, a plain pillow with cloth markers, as well as 2 chopsticks and yarn with instructions for making a “Scare Catcher.” The bubble blowing teaches the technique of exhaling which reduces anxiety; the pillow which the child and parent will create together is something they can hug and relax with. I need to get back to work and stop blowing my horn. I hope each one of you will decide to become a responsible adult and perhaps we will change the world.