Defend Truth


My personal struggle in a time of global pain


Branko Brkic is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Maverick.

This is perhaps the most overdue text I have ever written. It may anger many people affected by the Middle East conflict. Still, it needs to be said.

I come from a country that does not exist any more. Yugoslavia. I hoped that the pain I felt watching it disappear into the smoke of the early 1990s would not be repeated during my lifetime. I was wrong.

It is now two months since the latest bout of the Israel-Palestine human catastrophe started — a conflict that spans almost an entire century. Over the past 60 days, under my editorial leadership, and with the daily stewardship of Jillian Green, Anso Thom, Heather Robertson and many others, Daily Maverick has endeavoured to help our readers understand this complex, difficult, layered and painful crisis, to chart the path for human stories and testimonies, to describe the involvement of greater forces, to share a diverse range of expert opinions.

The daily instructions to our editorial team are to concentrate on the suffering of the ordinary people caught up in this mindless conflict. To the best of our ability, bring these way-too-often-missed-out dimensions to the fore. Our team has done a great job of covering the suffering and I am proud of our work. Especially when the emotive reactions to bloodshed and violence mean many of our readers are easily triggered by words that don’t conform with their personal views.

Hamas’ attack on 7 October was a barbaric act. The 1,200 souls that perished and the 240 people who were taken hostage were victims of an act that defies comprehension. What was so shocking was that Hamas obviously knew very well what they were doing and what kind of suffering would be inflicted on their own people in return — and yet they went ahead in pursuit of destabilising the geopolitics of the region, betting on a violent response.

Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Hamas’ barbarism in what can only be described as a medieval manner. As though he purposely decided to disregard all the lessons that the US response to 9/11 offered (and he was reminded of those mistakes by President Joe Biden and Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken), Netanyahu chose to not build an anti-Hamas coalition in the wake of the world’s genuine shock at the events of 7 October. 

Quite the opposite: he switched off the water and power, and blockaded Gaza in a way that was bound to create an unimaginably cruel humanitarian disaster. Instead of sending in special forces soldiers to retrieve hostages and target Hamas operatives, thousands of civilians perished in the aerial attacks on Gaza. Large parts of northern Gaza were flattened and that was even before the wide-scale ground invasion was launched by the Israel Defense Forces.

Among the casualties of the indiscriminate bombings were more than 60 journalists who bravely reported from the front lines of this war and paid with their lives. And the violence hasn’t stopped, save for the seven days of ceasefire during which hostages and prisoners were swapped.

The suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza is impossible to ignore. And the killing has not eased the pain of the families of the victims of 7 October or those families who yearn to embrace loved ones taken hostage. A bombing and invasion of such a densely populated space as Gaza was never going to be anything other than devastating, and will fertilise the resentment that ensures this cycle of violence continues.

What was immediately obvious, apart from the inevitable response by Netanyahu’s government to the Hamas attack, was how neatly it served autocrats all over the world (and especially the Russian and Iran governments that were so welcoming of the world’s attention focusing firmly on the Middle East again). This latest bill was about to be paid in the blood of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and not by President Putin or Ayatollah Khamenei.

Such a divisive conflict was bound to offer rich pickings to horrible people everywhere.

Hamas’ attack instantly unleashed a tide of anti-Islam and anti-Palestinian attacks in many countries.

Likewise, Israel’s attack on Gaza woke up anti-Semitism so shocking that even Jewish children in South African schools were made to feel unsafe. “From the river to the sea” — understood by many as the call to exterminate Jews in the Middle East — has been regularly heard in our society and elsewhere in the world.

This has to stop

Angry people conflated the violent actions of a small group of people with entire nations and religions, sparking hateful rhetoric and physical threats.

For all of us to have a future together, this has to stop. Anti-Semitic, anti-Palestinian and anti-Islamic attacks cannot be explained away.

The tragedy of the Palestinian and Israeli people is that they are led by “leaders” who have a “greater mission” on their minds, one that does not concern itself with civilian deaths. I urge you to read (or read again) the piece by Kevin Bloom, Messianism and madness: An intimate hell ride through end times in the Holy Land, from early in the conflict — it will explain a lot.

As for Daily Maverick’s coverage of the conflict, it should not be judged by a single article, analysis or column, but in its fullness. Daily Maverick editors and journalists are under pressure every day to ignore the totality of the humanitarian disaster and concentrate on one side only, to affirm one action or agenda over the other. Inevitably, because of how victimised and justified each side feels, we will publish something that is going to upset someone.

For me personally, the devastation of Yugoslavia, and so many other countries around it, inflicted a toll which is sometimes impossible to describe or gauge. 

The instant foreboding I felt of what was to come from the Israel-Hamas war was not wrong — this war questions humanity’s ability to solve the structural problems we’re saddled with in these dangerous times. I have seen this before — it never ends well.

This was the bill for the Balkan madness of the 1990s:

  • An estimated 100,000 dead.
  • About 4 million people were either displaced or left the country — I happen to be one of them.
  • At least two generations have been destroyed — their lives often reduced to mere survival.

And yet — and yet — the survivors of the conflicts eventually had to return to their original borders. (Serbia de facto lost Kosovo, but that is more complicated.) 

It may seem obvious in this day and age of information warfare, but let me state it anyway: People from all sides of this horrifying conflict have been scolding me in the belief that I am an “Israeli flunky” or a “Hamas agent”. Needless to say, I am neither — it is a common fate suffered by editors globally. In this wretched conflict, the “You are either with us or against us” approach will not solve anything.

As a response, I can only offer this: we should all be humanists. I grieve for the souls lost on all sides. I refuse to hate.

I do not believe that a forever war will solve anything — unless the sides believe that their opponents should be wiped off the face of the Earth, which is not something that anyone with a shred of humanity or sanity should believe.

The ONLY way this conflict will be solved is when sane people sit down to talk and find a way to co-exist. When they become neighbours rather than enemies. No terrorist attacks or bombing campaigns will achieve that. And no “leaders” should ever strive to destroy anything in the name of their people.

We must all fight for reason to prevail. It will not happen while hatred reigns. DM

PS: I did not have a moment to write about the suffering of the Ukrainian people. Or the by-now-forgotten ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Azerbaijan, a complicated but no less painful exodus of more than 50,000 people. Or Sudan. Or … so many countries. Such is the violent reality we all share these days. 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • douglas wade says:

    The tragedy here is that both sides are led by extremists, the Palestinians by Hamas, the Israelis by Netanyahu and his right wing allies. The ordinary people have to survive by calling the men with the machine guns Sir. Plus to which any group who thinks they are in a life and death struggle will do anything to survive.
    The lesson from South Africa is that ultimately you need a leader or leaders on both sides who can restrain those who think they can win a war, and who can settle matters politically. Again in Ulster the two irreconcilable sides managed to meet.
    Netanyahu’s war is I fear wholly futile. As far as I can recall the IDF has not rescued a single live hostage, nor have they destroyed Hamas. Even if it does disappear, another resistance organisation will be formed, with a couple of million possible recruits, which may be far more dangerous or extreme: a strategic disaster.
    What has also struck me is the sheer folly of the settlers in the West bank, and the gratuitous violence being inflicted by them and the IDF on the Palestinians not controlled by Hamas. Some zealots I gather, want to remove all non-Jews from there and Gaza, but that surely is a betrayal of some of the basic core beliefs of Judaism. What of pikuach nefesh?

  • Bruce Danckwerts says:

    It might be late in the day, but I cannot help wondering what the situation might look like now if Israel had spent the last +/- 15 years of (comparative) peace investing in jobs in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, for Palestinians. Israel has access to far more investment capital and possibly to more entrepreneurial capital. Labour in both the West Bank and Gaza would be very much cheaper than in Israel, so it should have been possible to make a good business case for the investment. Offering young Palestinians a reasonable job would have prevented them from being sucked into the likes of Hamas . . . . . and nations that trade together seldom go to war. While the world has to wait for the current madness in the Middle East to burn itself out, I believe the USA could lead by example by investing in labour intensive jobs in Mexico. Cheaper and more effective than building a wall. Bruce Danckwerts, CHOMA, Zambia

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Bruce you must not be aware of the work undertaken by the Kibbutzim bordering Gaza that were attacked on October 7. The victims massacred, and taken hostage, were not the right-wing, zealous, militant “settlers” of the West Bank – they were actually left-wing liberals who worked with the Palestinians of Gaza (gave them employment and skills) and were active in Gaza in various humanitarian capacities trying to make peace. Over a period of decades. 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, the first hostage to be released (her husband is still being held hostage), is widely reported in Israeli press as having met Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas, in the tunnels of Gaza during her capture. “She said she saw him, and told him: ‘How are you not ashamed? How are they not ashamed to do such things to people who fought for peace their entire lives?'”

  • Agf Agf says:

    With the greatest respect to you as an editor, you and your staff have most definitely not shown a balanced viewpoint. Again and again, day after day, you have taken the side of the Palestinians in this conflict. You have underplayed the barbaric behavior of the Hamas terrorists. In this respect you have joined the rest of the left wing woke mainstream media.

    • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

      Obviously you do not read the same articles that I do or only very few of them. And what Mr. Brkic’s piece is concerned, I find it rather impartial.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        That’s a weird way of putting it. He doesn’t agree with your perception of the balance in the articles and neither do I and it’s not from a lack of reading them. The bias a reader brings to an article has as much to do with their perception of it’s balance as does the balance of the article. We all have bias in some form and it’s prudent to acknowledge it.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      I agree.

  • jacki watts says:

    AGF, while I do not share your impression of the coverage, a more salient issue is – you ignore the heartfelt wisdom of Branko who has been through it himself… Heed the wisdom of the piece he has written.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    Branko, all of us have been affected by this awful conflict. I live by (at least, I like to think I do) the Christian principle of “Love your neighbour”. Netanyahu will disappear from the political scene (Israel being a democracy) but Hamas wont. It is a perversion of Islam, much like ISIS was, and needs to be destroyed. Like the fanatical Nazis in 1945, and the Japanese, Hamas won’t surrender or compromise. So, what choice does Israel have? How do you deal with an enemy that was sworn to eradicate you as a nation and a people? So, how has this affected “all of us”? Personally, I have become brutalised and inured to the pictures coming out of Gaza. This, given my personal beliefs, is not good, but the images from 7 October prevent me from feeling otherwise.

  • Bill Turner says:

    How do you ‘build an anti-Hamas coalition’ if Hamas was elected and appointed to that position?

    Not sure how practical the writers suggestion is.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      It’s about as practical and rooted in reality as the notion of using special forces raids into Gaza’s tunnels to rescue the hostages and eliminate hamas.

  • Glyn Morgan says:


    Thank you for your article on the Gaza Conflict. It is one of the strongest and most relevant article I have ever read.

    I sailed as Master on merchant ships before, during and after the Yugoslav struggles. My crews were mostly Ukrainian with some Polish and a few Yugoslavs from various parts of the country. I got the horrendous picture.

    I read a book, Russka, by Edward Rutherford. Putin’s actions are consistent with Russian/Slavic history. Muslim/Jewish actions are something else but just as horrendous.

  • Indira Govender says:

    Full article published on Jacobin by Ben Burgis on 9 November 2023

    “From the River to the Sea” is a call from democracy and equality.

    “It’s true that Hamas uses “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar slogans. But the phrase predates Hamas and is also widely used by advocates of a single democratic state with equal rights for Israeli Jews, Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Thai and Indian guest workers, and everyone else who lives there.
    From the river to the sea is a call for Israel to extend citizenship and legal and political equality to every single human being residing within its current borders.”

    • Ben Harper says:

      And what is Hamas’ stated goal? They don’t want peace they want to wipe Israel and the Jews off the face of the planet. And who do you think will be next if they ever achieve this?

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Branko as a keen follower of these event on Daily Maverick – the only opinion pieces I have read since October 7 have been written with Pro-Palestinian sympathies. Aside from Bloomberg and Reuters, I’d be very interested to be directed to any pro-Israel articles published here (a single one even) – in defence of the so-called even-handedness you are claiming.

    In DM’s defence, it does have an open an (fairly well regulated) comments forum. Gauging from these debates and engagements, it’s not difficult to see which way the well-informed wind blows.

  • Coen Gous says:

    Branko, in times past, you have written articles that I could only admire. This article, I sense, came from your heart, and I applaud you for writing it, knowing that many readers might condemn it. What we seeing in Israel is possibly the worst atrocities the world has seen since WW2, and my heart goes out to those that had to suffer as a result. That aside, please remain a source of inspiration… to you and your brilliant team of journalists

  • Alvin Roon says:

    The age-old conflict in the Middle East is intense not only due to cultural differences but fundamentally due to the Quran preaching violence on non-Muslims which is in stark contrast to the Judean Christian teachings.
    Until Muslims officially change the Quran doing away with the mentioned instructions of violence, this confrontation will always be initiated by extremists/ fundamentalists within them and in return cause retaliation from the affected party. This creates hate and distrust.
    Once instructed violence is omitted from their cult, we can all live and be treated equal under the same Law, but not create a false equivalence. Men and women are different but equal under the Law and there must be freedom of speech, -believe, – of movement, – ownership, -lifestyle and who we want to associate with or dissociate from.
    Life is holy, contrary to some believes. The most vulnerable must be protected (women and especially children and the unborn). Honesty must be the basis of all agreements; how difficult this may be for the politicians.

  • Mohsin Wadee says:

    Sorry Branko, I’m not buying this cuddly Kool-Aid. This battle is one-sided – and was provoked – by Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa, and settler violence before 7 Oct 23. Scream Hamas ad nauseum, but don’t ignore context and facts. Official figures but Gazaian deaths at 17000, independent third parties put it closer to 21000.

    Also, would you be peddling this Kumbaya when it comes to Ukraine – urge both parties to talk??? I don’t think so!

    • Denise Smit says:

      Hamas is a terrorist organisation and there can be no defence for barbaric terrorism

      • Mohsin Wadee says:

        Denise Smit, the ANC was also once labelled a terrorist organisation – even Nelson Mandela specifically called a terrorist – by many Western countries when it decided to take up the armed struggle.

        Hamas was an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and they legitimately won the Gaza election. Israel has actually always spurred Hamas on so that it abdicates any 2-state solution, and keeps lackeys like the inept PA in tow.

        You mention barbaric terrorism, let’s see in Gaza, so far 1400 Israelis have been killed, now over 17000 Gazaians, a large proportion of which were women and children, bombing of schools and hospitals etc etc. And please don’t tell me all 17000 were used as human shields – I pre-empt such stupidity. You’re welcome.

      • Mohsin Wadee says:

        Also Denise, as I said, if Branko urges everyone to talk, well then apply the same righteousness to Ukraine too.

      • Graeme Bird says:

        And the Israeli regime is knowingly committing genocide and there is obviously no defence for that either.

        • Ben Harper says:


          • John P says:

            Brilliant again Ben, well thought out arguments, pithy and hard hitting commentary that adds huge value to the debate. Or not.

          • Graeme Bird says:

            Exactly, just like Netanyahu as he watches the bombs fall on woman and children.

          • Ben Harper says:

            Shame, your understanding of what constitutes genocide is somewhat lacking. If Israel wanted to commit genocide it would have been all over a month ago. Hamas on the other hand have a stated primary goal of carrying out a genocide of the people of Israel.

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Still trying to visualize “cuddly Kool-Aid”

      My experience is that hyporbole and emotion are usually inversely proportional to the facts. You, Mohsin Wadee, are too full of hyporbole and emotion to be trusted with facts.

  • ilike homophones says:

    everybody is struggleing – calling it personal is just adding a cheap layer of drama.

    we always had wars, we always will have wars — and the learning experience are for those involved in the war — it is not for other people who are not involved in the war — because you can only learn permanently when you are hands on — if you know what i mean.

    The rest, like this article, is just cheap talk.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Not one article placed by DM about brainchild Yahya Sinwar in this time. Strange

  • Dr Know says:

    Unless you have the power to turn the hearts of the antagonists you have no power over the outcome. Say what you like, do what you like, it is all unfolding in the way that it will and nothing will change it because it is driven by the powerful human emotions of hate, fear and anger lived out by those who do have the power to change it all. Rather look to the future of our own home and use your voice and your energy to do everything you can to keep our heads above the water, we are not exactly an island of peace and prosperity in this rapidly unravelling world.

  • Graeme Bird says:

    Great piece and good work by you and the DM team. Its a pity that so many of your readers (based on the vast majority of sentiment in the comments section about the current war) are still so biased by their racist political leanings that they somehow manage to virtuously condemn Hamas while unbelievably failing to recognise the evil that is the current regime of Isreal.

    • Ben Harper says:

      The racist diatribe comes from the hamas supporters, as you so ably display

      • Mohsin Wadee says:

        Racist???? Hahahahahaha. When it suits you, you call out playing that card, now look who waves it around.

        Nice try.

        • Kanu Sukha says:

          Thank you for responding to emeritus professor of nothing Ben Harper with his standard Hahahaha jibe … not that it will have any effect !

      • Graeme Bird says:

        Funny that coming from one of the most virtuous commentators here. And especially since I made no comment about my views about Hamas. Who incidentally I regard as being on the same level as evil as the current Israeli government.

        • Ben Harper says:

          It’s ok, you’re entitled to be a supporter of a terrorist organisation – and you brought race into it not me, I’ve never mentioned race at all but here you come waving the raced card on people who don’t believe the fake narrative of Hamas being an innocent party

        • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

          Give you a day under Hamas or a day under this Israeli government and I’d bet you’d be signing up for Hebrew classes by nightfall Graeme

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      That’s a vertigo inducing horse.

  • Dietmar Horn says:

    Thank you Branko for this good journalistic work. You correctly recognize that the tragedy for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples is that their “leaders” have a “larger mission” in mind and appear uninterested in peaceful coexistence. The irrational mindset in the minds of Hamas and the right-wing extremist politicians in Israel makes any peace process impossible and so we will have to continue to live with the terrible images. In contrast to your analysis above, some DM articles cover the topic in a form of narrative reporting. They cite pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian sources and thus appear to be balanced overall. But biased readers primarily filter out what corresponds to their bias. As a result, this reporting follows the simple South African narrative: Israel supported the apartheid government, while the PLO supported the ANC, so Hamas is less bad than the Israeli government. Jews living in South Africa and their friends understandably cannot accept this and so there is a mutual outpouring of emotions in the comments section. However, this neither solves the Middle East conflict nor does it help to maintain the reconciliation process that began after the end of apartheid in South Africa. It would be good if your editorial colleagues reconsider the headline-grabbing “yellow press” style in their reporting.

  • Anastasija de Lange says:

    Dear Branko. You’ve just reminded me why I’m a Daily Maverick Insider. In this world of disinformation and amped-up propaganda – where credible news is becoming increasingly scarce and commodified – we sorely need balanced, informed and intelligent perspectives. I was born in South Africa (fortunately) to a Croatian mother and Serbian (still Yugoslav) father. So, I understand some of the pain of your beautiful and beleaguered part of the Balkans. It breaks my heart that “we learn from history that we do not learn from history” on repeat. The three monotheistic faiths share the same roots. More importantly, we, humans, all share a common humanity. How is it that any of us can sanely and reasonably justify any form of racism and prejudice?

  • Pierre Bill says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    I would like to quote from a book written by Edith Eger (“The Choice”). She is a survivor of the holocaust, and on page 280 she wrote “It is too easy to make a prison out of our pain, out of our past. At best, revenge is useless. It can’t alter what was done to us, it can’t erase the wrongs we have suffered, it can’t bring back the dead. At worst, revenge perpetuates the cycle of hate. It keeps the hate circling on and on. When we seek revenge, even non-violent revenge, we are revolving, not evolving.” I wish this message could be sent to the leaders of Israel and Hamas.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      A pertinent observation .. especially seen against the context of revisiting some of the Madiba 10 years anniversary programs featured/articulated by DM . Thank you editors and journalists and thoughtful insiders .

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    I think the article puts into context the current situation in Gaza from the 7th of October and the tragic loss of lives. However, we need to put into perspective what the UN Secretary General said when he explained that the events of the 7th of October did not happen in a vacuum. We had a 17 year siege of Gaza that shrank the economy by 37 percent, pushed the unemployment to 46 percent and with the youth unemployment at 80 percent. In addition, you ad the routine abuse of the Palestinians by the military and detentions without trial including an Apartheid permit to enter Israel. Yet we agree it does not justify the events of the 7th of October but the response of the ultra right wing government of Netanyahu has no justification also given his responsibility that gave rise to the actions. Nobody ought to celebrate violence and loss of human lives. The situation in Palestinian territories is very dire and the actions of the Israel government require a response from the international community. As a person with an affinity with Yugoslavia during the struggle, my heart bled for your country as well as that of comrades who were at Sava Centre in Sarajevo. We were helpless as NATO rained bombs and even murdered people in a train. I will never forget Albright and Clinton. It was for this reason that one condemned the war in Ukraine because life is sacrosanct and the tendency to take life and exact destruction for whatever reason must not be accepted or condoned.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Humans are wired up to kill one another. We have done so since the beginning and there is nothing at all to suggest that we will ever stop. It’s probably best to just get over any fantasies about there being any chance of peace breaking out anywhere much less the middle east.

  • Wendy Dewberry says:

    Thank you for your heartfelt message. These types of calls for sanity are helpful amidst the deeply disturbing effects that war has on our global communities. Psychological distress is almost unavoidable when atrocities like war exist. Yes, we all respond differently in keeping our own hearts and souls together and anger can sometimes be personally useful in the short term. Reading the responses in the comment section is quite interesting in this regard.
    We all now understand that following the money usually turns out to be the right place to look for reasons for war, usually blatant in hindsight. And we have seen over and over that when it comes to money and power, innocent lives become fodder.

    To this, all war mongering should be treated as criminal. It is anti social behaviour. I don’t understand how anyone can logically condone legitimized murder, unless you stand to gain from it. Don’t be part of the institutional war machine. (Yes, thats a thing) . Taking sides of war is like eating our own brain. (Thanks for the ghastly imagery, Hannibal Lector!) It’s senseless .
    Our society needs to get our minds back and stand against all war.

  • Hargovan Jitendra says:

    I respect the challenges you faced and would not want to minimise that.

    But you fall into a common trap – Hamas “barbarism” (used more than once). But no reference to the GENOCIDE being unleashed by Apartheid israel. Over 16 000 murdered, and over 7000 of them are children. Surely their families yearn for better.

    You make it seem that being Anti israel is being Anti Semitic. This is a fundamental flaw in your position. Being Anti israel is in fact being Anti Zionist – Refer to numerous articles by Torah Jews (amongst others).

    Your “analysis” that “From the river to the sea” is meant “to exterminate Jews” falls into the type of analysis of Suella Braverman and other right wing apolgists – Pathetic. The Right Wing Likud Party has a clause similar to this in their constitution – “from the sea to the river”. The Genocide is in fact an attempt at extermination of the Palestinian people by the Likud Leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. He has made this clear in no uncertain terms.

    The Genocide is Barbaric.

  • Linette Havinga says:

    There are no winners, no moral upperground and a terrible indictment against us all and against all nations of this world. A terrible tragedy; also in other parts of the world

  • Barrie Lewis says:

    If we’re really looking for someone to blame, and to find a solution, we need to recognise that it’s neither Israel nor Hamas. It’s the gun-runners, America, Iran and a heap of other countries, South Africa too probably, who have profited from this war.
    If it wasn’t for them, Jews and Arabs would be fighting with sticks and stones, a few bloodied noses and a few dozen dead.
    The best part of ANC corruption was the death of Denel, yet it struggles back to life, ready to profit from more innocent lives. The heart of man is exceedingly wicked; we will in the end destroy ourselves.

  • betsy Kee says:

    You describe your pain so well. Despite living in (relative) peace in South Africa, the tragedies being wrought upon innocent people elsewhere in the world- Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen, China, Myanmar….so many places….makes me constantly reevaluate how fortunate I am and how desperately sad our world is.

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