There, but for the Grace of God

Professor Brian Keating
4 min readOct 16, 2023

Apologies for not sending out an email last week. I was profoundly depressed, disturbed, and, quite frankly, friends in Israel's Jewish community.

I love writing these emails. But mixing the pleasure I get from writing them with the unspeakable acts of violence committed against innocent civilians last week was unthinkable. I still cannot reconcile the scenes and warmth I experienced just one month ago, celebrating my bar mitzvah with my family in places like the Old City of Jerusalem or the beaches of Tel Aviv (above) with the murder of Holocaust-surviving grandparents who should be enjoying their golden years, to unspeakable horrors committed against babies; children whose laughter should fill the air at festivals — these acts are nothing short of heinous, the epitome of evil in our world. The emotional toll it takes is immeasurable, and the struggle to articulate the weight of such sorrow was a battle I couldn’t overcome.

In moments like these, when words lose all meaning, I come back to a complex but important concept: that two seemingly contradictory things can be true simultaneously. It’s a nuanced understanding that feels critical right now. One can, and should, forcefully denounce the terrorism that brings such evil while also sending fervent prayers for the safety and well-being of those innocents caught in the crossfire of all faiths and backgrounds.

It’s an emotional tightrope between depths of sorrow and the glimmers of hope for better days. And yes, you can seethe with a wave of righteous anger that such evil exists, that such pain has been inflicted upon those who did nothing to deserve it. Yet, within that same chamber of outrage, there is space to open your heart wider — to recognize our shared humanity, to acknowledge that even in the darkest times, glimmers of compassion, kindness, and unity can shine through. Stories of unity and survival have replaced my timeline lately, bringing some comfort.

But soon, the war will come to Gaza and northern Israel. My heart breaks when I think of the innocent children in Gaza, this young girl below, a soldier I met in the Tel Aviv souk and her Bedouin counterparts in the IDF I who are undoubtedly deployed on the front lines, along with my friend Dov — a father of 5 kids, and the sons and daughters of so many of my friends serving in combat as well. I pray for her safety and all of our friends and family in cavity or in battle.

Tel Aviv 3 weeks ago

To our brothers and sisters, the whole of Israel, who are in trouble & captivity, whether they are on the sea or land: May God have mercy upon you and bring you forth from trouble to salvation, from darkness to light, from capture to redemption, now speedily


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Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner