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