The rising prices in Israel mean more than a growing economic burden on lower income groups. In 2011, when the price of cottage cheese became unreasonable and housing prices skyrocketed, people took to the streets in droves demanding social justice. Now, while a boycott has been declared online against some of the major food manufacturers in Israel, there is no open outrage, no demonstrations or protests, no signs demanding social justice, and no fiery speeches about accountability. In fact, the public seems so indifferent that even the government is initiating price hikes.
But the public is not careless; it is simply jaded, disillusioned, and above all, divided to the point of paralysis. The government and corporations, for their part, merrily exploit it.
It is not as if there is nothing we can do. After all, we, the public, are the ones who pay. But if we do not cooperate, we cannot call the shots. When consumers are divided, they are like a herd of cattle being led by those who own it. If we could work together, we could cut the prices of countless products in half or even less.
So why can’t we cooperate? We cannot cooperate because we do not want to have anything to do with one another. We do not want connections and we do not want commitments.
Precisely because of it, the price hikes are an opportunity for us to recognize our real problem, which is our division, and solve it once and for all. By raising prices to levels that make it difficult for many of us to buy even the most basic staples, corporations are inadvertently forcing us to unite. In that sense, these profiteers are doing society a great service by making us look to each other for support.
Now we need to see what we can achieve with our solidarity. Solidarity is not a goal in itself. It is a foundation that enables us to create a society that not only functions justly, but maintains that just mindset through constant work on solidarity and unity.
Once we have achieved a certain level of solidarity, we are ready to move on to the next level. The ego is not passive. It is constantly growing, and today’s solidarity will not hold tomorrow. Therefore, once we have achieved it, we must strive to increase the affinity between us and build our solidarity on empathy and kinship.
As we climb the levels of closeness, the levels below become a given. For example, solidarity is a given among people who care for one another. Therefore, if we achieve affection, we have achieved solidarity.
In the current state of the Israeli society, we are so divided that we cannot speak of any positive feelings. However, if we rally around a common problem, and unjust price hikes are certainly a common problem, we can advance from there to deeper levels of connectedness. As we deepen the bonds between us, we will naturally be fair toward each other and we will not need to worry about price hikes or other forms of exploitation.