Skip to main content

America's response to Syria? Walk away.

Last Sunday night I attended what was called a Candle Light Vigil for Syria.  My friend Charlie Johnson who spoke at the event invited me.  Charlie is the pastor of Bread Fellowship in Fort Worth and had been tweeting for weeks about the tragedy in Syria.  Some Dallas Syrians picked up his tweets and invited him to join in the vigil and to share his thoughts.

Around 9pm about 75 people gathered at the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas to remember the ongoing suffering of the people of Syria who live under the endless brutality of the Assad regime.

Descriptions of some of the horrors of the conflict were read.  Poems and prayers were given.  People lit candles and raised them in solidarity.  There were speakers, including Charlie, whose own words were calm and encouraging but passionate and wise.

As far as I could tell Charlie and I were the only ones there who were not of Syrian descent.  I had hoped there might be a more diverse group of support.

The atrocities taking place daily in Syria is not simply a problem of the Arabs.  It is a problem for all humanity.  The plague of violence going on there transcends all races and religions.  You cannot be a human being and not be outraged by the barbarism of the Assad regime against its own people.

The politics of it all are complicated.  I keep wanting the US government to be more involved, to offer more public support, to step in with humanitarian or even military support.  But so far our government is taking a very cautious approach.

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 64% of Americans, a mix of both Republicans and Democrats, are opposed to any US involvement in Syria.  And yet the same poll shows that some 54% of Americans, mostly Republicans, are perfectly fine with going against Iran to stop their nuclear programs.

Why are Americans more worried about a nuclear Iran which we’re not sure even exists?  Their primitive nuclear projects are not a threat to the US or anyone.  There is no proof they are building a nuclear bomb.  Speculation, yes.  Rumors, yes.  Fears, yes.  But so far, no proof.

In the meantime, you cannot watch the evening news or browse the Internet without seeing the actual real time slaughter going on in Syria.  And yet it seems to be off the radar for most Americans.

64% of us say we should leave it alone; just walk away.

The war in Iraq was all made up.  There was no threat there to America.  And yet it was fully supported by most Americans.  Even after we found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein was not involved in 911, that not a single terrorist involved in the horrific attack against us was even from there or had any connection whatsoever to Hussein or his government; still, Americans supported that war.  It cost us a trillion dollars and thousands of American soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians destroyed in the process.  And it has made little difference in that country.  The Kurds, Sunni, and Shia are still killing each other every day in the midst of their so called democracy.  But very few Americans seem bothered by any those facts and most still think we did the right thing by invading that country.

And yet, 64% of us want nothing to do with Syria.

The war in Afghanistan rolls along taking the lives of our brave soldiers, leaving thousands of others of them maimed for life, or ruined by traumatic brain injuries, or emotionally crippled by post traumatic stress disorder.

Most Americans are finally tired of that war and are ready for it to end.  According to a just released AP (Associated Press) poll only 27% of Americans support our military presence in Afghanistan.  But President Obama says we need another two years there in order to make a responsible exit.

All the while, 64% of us say leave Syria alone.

With all that happened in Iraq, and still in Afghanistan, I can understand why most of us feel that way.  People are weary with the loss of American lives and the expense of military spending.  But if there was ever a reason to fight for an oppressed people, to stop a vicious dictator from committing genocide, to end a diabolical regime of greed and monstrous inhuman behavior, the Syrian conflict is it.

In the midst of this hideous nightmare brave people struggle to survive.  A small band of highly overpowered revolutionaries continue to fight to protect their families and people.  Many of them are deeply religious; they hope and pray for help to come. 

The spirit of those I saw and heard and met Sunday night seems invincible.  Their family members, friends, and loved ones in Syria carry on under unthinkable circumstances.  They all believe the human community will surely reach out to assist them. 

I am overcome by their courage and their hope in the existence of goodness and I am reminded that even in darkness some flowers still bloom.

© 2012 Timothy Moody


Popular posts from this blog

The Light in the Faces of Our Incredible Human Family

National Geographic Journalist Paul Salopek is walking across the world on foot to trace the pathways of the first humans who wandered out of Africa in the Stone Age to claim the earth as theirs. His journey will cover 21,000 miles and is estimated to take 10 years. He is four years into his massive expedition and already he has discovered that humanity is mostly kind and generous, welcoming and caring, hard-working and disciplined.
I watched a brief piece about Salopek’s journey on the PBS News Hour this week. I have included a link below.
What is extraordinary about his adventure is his realization that in spite of all the wars and turmoil across the globe, he has learned that “The world is an incredibly hospitable place.” In following the ancient trade route called “The Silk Road,” Salopek has gotten to know a variety of people young and old. And though he has so far encountered a few dangerous situations where he had his water supply stolen, was once ambushed by raiders, and was sho…

Our National Lack of Self-esteem

There is a brokenness in our society, a pervasive moral collapse, a reckless disregard for community, neighborliness, courtesy, and compassion.
Our government leads by this example. Both parties are incompetent to guide us into a more responsible living, into a serviceable structure of humanity. Our leaders are dominated by greedy oligarchs who don’t just want more, they want everything, even if it costs our society its dignity, its soul, even its future.
What is on display here daily is a wretched lack of self-esteem. The loss now influences all of us. We’re all affected in ways that keep us shamed by our actions.
When we feel powerless, aimless, without any higher goals than the accumulation of things and the momentary thrill, we then mute our intelligence. We live by raw emotions—anger, appetite, urges. We don’t think, we don’t consider, we merely react. We push. We disregard. We threaten. We act out. And we fail.
Self-esteem is a learned process. It builds on genuine successes that ar…

Is the Soul Solid, like Iron?

Mary Oliver has a beautiful little poem in which she asks:

“Is the soul solid, like iron?
or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?”

It is both.

The soul, we are told by philosophers, theologians, and mystics, is our essence, the permanence of our true self. It is that part of us that lives beyond death. Or so we are taught by religion. Where exactly the soul exists beyond that, has of course, been long debated.

There are times in life when something deep within us is, as Mary Oliver says, solid as iron and we operate out of some sense of aliveness, confidence, and inner strength. It may be fleeting, but there when needed; or it may carry us through long periods of endurance when we build a sturdy self, confident and capable of our abilities and talents.

This is the work of the soul. This is a part of our spiritual development. This is what enables us to believe there are forces in life, loving and generous and mystical, that nurture and compel us tow…