Conflict of interest

Layah Shagalow
4 min readJun 14, 2021


I’ve been trying to figure it out, for far too long now. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the things that seem to be driving me crazy. How can some people think that what they’re doing is ok, and yet how can we all feel that way about each other. Is this the human condition? We just all get it wrong?

This year was absolute and utter madness. And grief. And despair. And fear, and rage and disappointment. This year was confusing and divisive and astonishing. It brought out the worst in all of us I’m afraid. I’m usually the person who finds some kind of redeeming factor in conclusion so I’m just hoping that if I put these words down on this virtual paper I will find the redemption in this story because I need to find it.

This year I have been so mad. And I hate being mad. Sure, I get passionate, and dramatic and sometimes a little worked up, but I rarely get mad. And being a clinically trained psychotherapist, I know that anger is secondary emotion. It often appears when the true emotion we are feeling is too strong or too scary to fully surface. So we hide behind anger, because it gives us something else to focus on, another place to put our emotions. So I’m trying to look beneath the anger and figure it out.

I have always been proud to be a Jew. This is a heritage I was born into and also accepted as a personal choice. My religious observance is a commitment I make over and over again, every single day. I do not make it out of fear of Gd or retribution, I make it out of love and respect and honor to a relationship with the higher being I choose to serve. I choose to manifest my commitment to that relationship through the traditions and rituals of Judaism. I do not impress this choice on anyone else. And I only ask that others respect that it is my choice. I also believe in science, and medicine and compassion. I believe that the Torah, whose laws I follow, are rooted in the same compassion. For those who choose to follow it, the command to preserve and protect life, our own and the lives of others is paramount.

So this year I found myself struggling. Because the people who call themselves the same as me, were not upholding their part of the deal. For some, the flagrant disregard for rules regarding health and safety. For others, the support for political leaders who openly incite violence and promote the…