Today, the death toll in the Gaza-Israeli conflict stands above 500 people. In a few short weeks, 500 lives -- at least 100 of them children -- have been added to the death toll of a conflict that goes back much farther than most history books can cover.
In the last few days, I've read articles urging the world to remember that war doesn't just affect those in the war, but the world. They are begging for resolution, a cease-fire, humanity. And Israel continues to send tanks into Gaza. And the fighting goes on. And I know tomorrow morning when I check the headlines the death toll will be more than it was today.
Amidst all of this violence, a different kind of violence infiltrates our television screens, radio waves and news feeds. The war of words between both sides rages far beyond the small square footage of Israel and Gaza. Criticism of pro-Israel or pro-Hamas media coverage in the United States is flying back and forth, leaving many to question every little detail of the ongoing crisis. Even Jon Stewart can't comment on the situation satirically without criticism. When everyone is pointing fingers, name-calling and making accusations, the line between fact and fiction only continues to blur.
Everyone knows people are dying. Everyone knows this is a war that goes beyond the fighting that has taken place in the last few weeks. Everyone does not know who is justified in doing what, striking which missile or making a decision with implications for continued violence. We are not in these soldiers, politicians or civilians shoes -- on either side. Many of us have never faced combat. Many of us, especially Americans, have no idea what it is like to live every day knowing that the razor-thin presence of peace could be shattered in a second.
The situation is complicated. This isn't a blow-off or an attempt to downplay what's happening. It's the truth. The situation is much too complicated for most of us to truly understand. If you want to learn more about what's going on and what has happened in the past few weeks or millennia, there are plenty of resources available to you to do so. Until then, let's at least hold back the criticism, on both sides, and continue to hope for a peaceful solution that stops the rising death count. This is one piece of the conflict we can control -- what we say and how we act.