As I sit like many of you hearing conflicting reports of what is happening in Syria [and other Middle Eastern and African countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Iraq], I feel bowed with sorrow at the pain and suffering being experienced by so many. My focus in this post is Syria.
I watch coverage, see children hiding in caves in the dark; not knowing whether they will survive the night and I see long trails of humans walking to cross borders leaving their homes and families and their household goods, dispossessed people now refugees in another land. I see the destructive force of bombs, and gunfire, ravaged buildings that all represent crushed homes that held families, with their dreams, hopes, and aspirations just a few short years ago, that now lie in rubble, torn down by the destructive hand of mankind. I see piles of frail human bodies, some covered in rags and blankets, their lives and their stories of their lives forever turned into a great silence, their lives stolen, their futures stolen. The living stare back at us with blank traumatised eyes, or if their frustration can still find expression…some talk quickly, angrily about who did this to them. Each ‘side’ tells a different story. All suffer. As well as bombs and the death of so very many, now the use of chemical weapons has been added to the poisonous mix. And we have an almighty heady brew.
It was the regime, say one group. No, it was the rebels say the regime. The world’s countries polarise depending on which side they back. And in that polarisation we all become more alienated, less likely to hear the voice of reason, less able to find a diplomatic solution, less inclined to listen and to talk…and more likely to inflict yet more carnage and destruction upon those who have already suffered so much as the drums of war bang louder by the day. We all become more wary of each other, rifles are cocked, weapons counted and made ready, old international divisions surface and rumble…This further proposed possible infliction of damage upon the Syrian regime by the USA and Western allies now being considered is a show of power, a proposed act of ‘proportional’ damage that is intended to show their strength and by inflicting more damage somehow prevent further damage by the warring sides themselves, to each other. It is as if, by bombing Syria, the leaders of our Western nations believe that somehow this will bring these damaged and shattered people to their senses…and history rings its mournful bell to remind us that this has never worked before and likely never will. A bomb does not kill an ideology or a belief. You cannot bomb a thought. I remember Iraq.
What is a far more likely scenario is that the tinderbox that is the Middle East will erupt with a force like the wildfires around California at the moment, holding within them the energy to destroy everything in their wake, spreading viciously out of control. If the conflicts and divisions erupt we look at a scenario that sees the whole of the area, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, possibly Jordan as well simply explode with long pent-up resentments and an outward no holds barred war between Sunni and Shiite of which the likes has not been seen since our own Christian Reformation wars in Europe of the 1500 and 1600’s between Catholic and Protestant. In those times, millions were killed, directly and indirectly and this conflagration with the desperate drawing in of our three world superpowers, the USA, Russia and China could easily spark disastrous consequences for all humanity. It is spiralling out of control.
So what do we do? Do we ignore the suffering and deaths of so many? Do we stand by and simply watch as hundreds die from a possible chemical attack? Does our intervention stand any chance of helping? Should we rather have asked ourselves moral questions so many years ago? Who supplied the weapons now being used? Who payrolls the regimes? Who makes puppets of nations? Who makes it possible for such countries rulers or citizens to act with such impunity against their own peoples and others whose ideologies differ? And perhaps the most difficult question…how do we as humans get beyond this constant inward acting out of destruction on other human beings, on our planet and thus always ultimately upon ourselves?
The UN was set up to try to prevent such things happening. The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims include promoting and facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, political freedoms, democracy, and the achievement of lasting world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. That’s a lot of valuable opinions and experience…if we listen.
It is not perfect. But when countries now say that they will bypass its processes and decide to act alone with impunity; we are truly lost. For it is only by continuing to have an effective platform where we may listen and consult, and continue to talk and seek consensus opinion that the structure and the desire behind the very setting up of that structure may work at all and act to prevent one country dominating others. It is by bringing our disagreements to this platform that we may show willing to resolve them and find a way forward. If bypassing it in order to take unilateral action itself is not sanctioned; then effectively we have no way of resolving issues other than by war of the strongest against the weakest, and civilisation itself, both the notion of and living within, is destroyed. This is outright bullying of the weaker by the stronger. And THIS is not of any of our notions of God, regardless of creed and religious belief. This current of thought, energy and deed is not something that acts in humanity’s interests. This is something which if allowed to continue will by its nature and inevitable conclusion destroy humanity. Humanity will destroy itself if it loses what makes it human. The capacity to love and share and work together, both to progress and to resolve difficulties and to continue to be inventive, inspired and courageous enough to explore other than what it already knows.
So this is my dream. I hope that the UN will be consulted and its decision adhered to. I hope that humanity is able to work together and cease killing each other. And I hope that the children and peoples of these troubled lands will once again be able to live freely and laugh as they did in many years past before the destruction of all that is good in their lives came to them. Many may call me an idealist. So was Martin Luther King 50 years ago when he made his famous speech. What content of character do we all have at this crossroads in time. Creation? Or Destruction? For we are all one. We live on one planet, we are all affected by what occurs in Syria, and Iraq, directly as the winds blow the military pollution across our planet, psychologically by seeing the carnage and emotional distress suffered, and mentally because destruction is not what we were created to do with the gift of life.
I have a wall hanging in my hall that says this:
If there is light in the soul,
There is beauty in the person,
If there is beauty in the person,
There will be harmony in the house,
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation,
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.
Thus, perhaps it is our duty and pleasure at this moment in time to lighten our own souls, and to extend this light throughout the world.
A poll yesterday in a British newspaper asked the question, “Should Britain go to war in Syria?”
21% said yes…and 79% said NO.
May our loving God protect and keep us all,
One family in Him.