Statement on Gratitude & Grief | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Statement on Gratitude & Grief

By Diana Ayton-Shenker

The gratitude of giving thanks this season is complicated by the overwhelming grief of these turbulent times. Leonardo is anguished and appalled by the horrific violence, humanitarian catastrophe, and collective trauma of the Israel-Hamas war. Brutal attacks on civilians shock human conscience, assault human dignity, and violate humanitarian norms and international laws. We condemn the rising tide of antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab bigotry in all forms. We reaffirm our unequivocal commitment to peace and hope in opposition to the insanity of escalating violence and inhumanity of war. 

“The unbearable weight of this moment is the undeniable truth that change is paramount for the human species to live with peace, dignity and well-being.”¹ Through creativity and compassion, Leonardo affirms the essential humanity of humankind and the healing power of humankindness across, within, and despite borders. We stand with and for the safety, security, access and freedom of artists, scientists, technologists. In solidarity with hybrid creatives caught in this crisis, Leonardo offers a corridor of hope in our community of practice, experimentation and scholarship, where ideas don’t take sides. 

I am grateful for the humanity of Leonardo/ISAST, which aspires to answer the call that “in a place where there is no humanity, strive to be human.”² Let us deepen our commitment to foster creativity that helps “empower an inclusive global network, a borderless community where all belong in pursuit of a more vibrant, just, and regenerative world.”³

I am grateful for the humanity of author Adania Shibli, who speaks of her struggle as words “deserted” her in the first month of this war: “I now understand this loss of language as an outcome of staying with pain: the incomprehensible pain of those in Palestine-Israel against whom a new degree of cruelty has been unleashed, the personal pain of the loss of a dream that we could dare to imagine a new form of togetherness, where we allow ourselves to learn from pain rather than unleash it against others.”⁴ Let us hold fast to our shared dream that imagines a new form of togetherness. 

I am grateful for the humanity of social entrepreneur Ami Dar, who recognizes that “once you see that both Palestinians and Israelis have a long, rich, tragic, beautiful, and legitimate story, you can’t unsee it.”⁵ Let us see and embrace the humanity in each other.

I am grateful for the humanity of international human rights lawyer Alex Neve, who insists that we “rise to the humanity of the moment,”⁵ safeguard all in the family of humankind and “lift each other up; equally.”⁷ Let us all do what we can to lift each other up.

And I am grateful for the humanity of poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who reminds us that “there is a place to stand where you can see so many lights you forget you are one of them.”⁸ Let us remember to be the light we are.



¹Editorial, Leonardo 56.6 (MIT Press, December 2023)
²Rav Hillel, Pirkei Avot 2:5
³ Leonardo/ISAST Mission
⁴Adania Shibli,
⁵Ami Dar,
⁶Alex Neve, Op-Ed,
⁷ Alex Neve, “Stop,”
⁸Naomi Shihab Nye, “Spruce Street, Berkeley” in Fuel: Poems (BOA Editions Ltd.; First Edition, June 1, 1998)