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Jerusalem, stress and burnout

Obama is coming to town

There’s never a dull moment in this land!

I leave Jerusalem on a windy March morning, helicopters hovering over the city, freshly printed banners hang from lamp-posts declaring the unbreakable bond between Israel and the US. The taxi driver points to the suite at the Kind David Hotel – the hotel famously bombed in 1946 – where Barack Hussein will stay. The security forces are already camping on the rooftop.

We reach East Jerusalem and the taxi driver quickly removes the company sign from the front window, ‘it’s Israeli’ he says ‘I don’t want some crazy one to throw stones at the car.’

Jerusalem to Jordan 

I’m the only foreigner on the minibus to Allenby Bridge, the crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. At the first Israeli checkpoint a woman checks our passports. I look outside the window and see a sign: ‘Military zone do not enter. Danger of landmines’.

‘Does anyone have any weapons?’ asks the security guard. Palestinians laugh to ease the tension. She does too. ‘Sorry, but I have to ask.’ The door closes and we are on our way to another series of checks before leaving the West Bank for Jordan, several hours ahead of my flight to London.

War is not a cause of burnout

For most of those who live and work in difficult contexts this scenario becomes routine – though hopefully we never get used to it to the point of considering weapons, landmines, and checkpoints as ‘normal’ (if you do, I suggest a break from the field).

The crazy thing is that often what creates the most stress, or leads to burnout, is not the complex political situation on the ground. Have I mentioned the role played by organisational culture in building resilience and preventing burnout? Have I mentioned the importance of taking a ‘breathing space’ away from your smartphone?

I guess I have, so let me share with you the beauty of the West Bank in the spring.

As I said: never a dull moment in this land!


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Mindfulnext/Aid to Zen 2011-2017 Creative Commons License
Mindfulnext by Alessandra Pigni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.