My grandmother used to laugh out loud every time someone mentioned the death and funeral of her mother. Deeply, freeingly. And, yes, hysterically.
We talked about it sometimes, amongst the rest of the family. How she had been beaten and ignored by her mother. How she had never been properly acknowledged. How, after all of her rebellion—running away, cutting her hair short, marrying outside her class—she did not feel free until her mother had actually died. We talked about it with compassion but discomfort: it was understandable and painful and hard.
This is some part of how I feel when I watch people cheer at the bombing of other human beings. When I hear them justify the destruction of memories, families, and homes with reference to ideas, beliefs, and politics. I understand that there is trauma involved. I understand that it is painful and hard.
But with my grandmother, the laughter, while uncomfortable, made me see her humanity and the humanity of her mother too. Her intimate trauma somehow felt—and feels—more closely related to post-traumatic stress disorder than watching someone else die from afar, and cheer. My grandmother would not have found the death of anyone else’s mother funny in the least.
What I am trying to say is this.
I have written and spoken sparingly on the Gaza-Israel crisis. And now I am writing to say this: please do not laugh at other people’s suffering or death. And if you feel that you must, if your intimate trauma and personal experience of the crisis is such that you cannot but laugh from post-traumatic stress and hysteria, I pray (and I truly do pray) that your laughter helps to project and understand the humanity of everyone involved, including those you laugh at.