I live in the Middle East. I have for awhile now. I spent part of that time studying Arabic at the University of Damascus. In Syria.
So what I see on the news affects me. Deeply. Permanently. It’s a little surreal when you see neighborhoods you frequented on CNN. In a pile of rubble.
And I get asked what I think of the impending military strike on Syria.
What do I think? What can I think? What should my response be when I’m sitting on the floor with a family of refugees who are wondering how they will feed their family. All the while torn apart because close family members are still back “home” in prison.
What should my response be when I speak with a father who had to make gut-wrenching decisions concerning his family. Ultimately, he decided to travel across the border with his then very pregnant wife and toddler, leaving his six year old behind with a grandfather because it was too difficult to travel with that many people. He’s hoping to go back, across treacherous territory through multiple battle lines to be reunited with his small son. He’s hoping he’ll have a reason to go back.
What do I say? War is hell.
What can I say? I’m only a girl living in a desert land trying to love Arabs.
And ultimately, it isn’t my decision to decide whether or not to destroy the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Men in uniforms will determine proper targets and I will watch my city go up in flames. Because no neighborhood is safe, each has a military target or some sort.
Besides, talk is cheap. I’m tired of talking. I’m tired of listening to various “experts” drone on about a place they can never understand. No, I’d rather do something.
So, what I do is pray. I pray for those caught in the middle of a seemingly endless war. A war that when it does end will only mean more fighting as various tribes, clans and groups vie for power. I pray for those who are the “collateral damage.” Those left homeless, hopeless. Those who have faced terrors no human should ever experience.
And I do what I can to make a difference. I visit those affected. I bring food and gifts. I listen to their stories and create beautiful objects. I play with their kids and laugh. Always I try to find a reason to laugh. And I pray I bring just a little bit of hope.