Once again I feel blessed that I live on the beautiful North Shore. Life in Unorganized Territory may be hectic. I may be perpetually behind and there is someone annoyed about at least one news article every week, but at least I live in relative peace.
Peace has been on my mind a lot this week as the horrible news continues to filter out of Syria. It is so hard to make sense out of it all.
Could it be true that a president would turn deadly chemical weapons on people in his own nation? Is President Bashar al-Assad really a monster who will kill thousands of people to drive those who oppose him from his country? Is the government of Syria so demented that it would use its army to drop poison on innocent people, including children?
Or, could the Syrian rebels be so cruel, to harm their own people to try to make a political point? Could it be a twisted ploy to turn the world against an unpopular leader? Are they not oppressed, but evil?
I don’t know how America, or France, or the United Kingdom or the United Nations, can sort this all out. It seems clear that there was a chemical attack on over a thousand citizens of Syria. Evidence is mounting and news reports from various news sources in a myriad of countries are confirming those first social media photos and videos.
But will it ever be clear who perpetrated the horrendous crime? Remembering the questionable intelligence about weapons of mass destruction leading up to the Iraqi War, I am skeptical. Skeptical and scared that we are going to become mired in something that may not be fixable.
And frankly, I am very, very sad. A friend shared a Facebook post from World Vision USA asking all of us to pray for Syria. The simple message comes with a heart-rending photo. Not a photo of the victims of the chemical attack, thankfully, but a photo that touches your heart in an entirely different way.
The photo is of a little boy— probably about 5 years old. He is darkcomplexioned and has black hair, so he could be a little Syrian boy. He is resting peacefully on a beautifully woven rug that looks like it could have been woven in Damascus.
Or, he could be the little boy down the street napping on a fancy floor covering from Target. He could be your son or grandson, tired from playing with his friends.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case that is so true. The power of the picture is that we can’t tell where this little boy is. Is he in Syria, in a country torn by violence and oppression? Or is he in America, in a country of relative safety and freedom to be a little boy?
And more importantly, what can we do to ensure that the little boy—wherever he is—is able to nap safely and peacefully?
One way to feel less helpless is give of ourselves. World Vision of course is asking for money. Its mission is to help children all around the world. It gives options to purchase animals for impoverished families to provide fresh eggs and dairy. It fundraises to build wells and install water pumps in communities with no clean water. World Vision works to save sexually exploited girls and it seeks financial support for medical needs around the world. And now, a major part of its mission is helping the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Syria, who are crowded into refugee camps in neighboring countries.
Think about giving in some way if you can—a little goes a long way if we all give. If you don’t want to donate to a Christian organization, I am sure there are other groups working to help the people of this area in crisis. I am sure there are others who are working to find a way to help these vulnerable children.
Another way to help is to simply seek peace here in the United States. We need to stop taking sides in the conversations we have about Syria. It doesn’t matter whether or not the chemical weapons used on the people of Syria came from Iraq all those year ago. It doesn’t matter if we were right or wrong all those years ago. What matters now is that we speak respectfully to one another and we try to work together to find a way to help the people of Syria. What matters now is that we tread very, very, carefully into this strife-ridden region.
Pray for peace in Syria.
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It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.