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By Sarah Gerald
As an American, it is very difficult for me to understand the conflict in Syria; the depth of which encompasses hundreds of years of political and religious battle lines.
Modern technology brings international attention to the plight of the citizens there. Images surface and are reposted thousands of times over and are difficult to avoid. We carry the world in our pockets, while somehow being ill-equipped to handle the knowledge that it brings.
It’s almost easier to ignore the news altogether for being crippled by an inability to immediately do something about what we see and hear. However, chosen ignorance can lead to apathy, and that we must not give in to.
Syria is a land rich with cultural and historical influence. It is one of the oldest inhabited regions in the world with archaeological finds.
Professor Joshua Mark writes, “Syria was an important trade region with ports on the Mediterranean, prized by a succession of Mesopotamian empires.”
It has six world heritage sites, but unfortunately, its current conflict has brought unimaginable damage to this historically rich land.
Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, and more than one million have been injured. Over 12 million Syrians—half the country’s pre-war population—have been displaced from their homes.
The Free Syrian Army formed in 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad, who has international supporters such as Russia. There has been ongoing violence against citizens that has been condemned by the UN and other countries.
On April 7th of this year, President Donald Trump launched missiles at a Syrian air force base in response to the use of chemical warfare. There are four major players in the conflict: Assad and his regime, Kurdish forces, ISIS, and other opposition. This in no way encompasses the depth of war in Syria, however it gives us at least a starting point to comprehend what others are facing.
I don’t know what it’s like to become accustomed to hearing bombs. I don’t know what it’s like to live in a perpetual state of grief. I don’t know what it’s like to hide under rubble and wait for death to come.
However, I do know that there are people in this world who experience these things and more as a part of their ‘normal’ life. I’m not o.k. with being knowledgeable of what’s going on and doing nothing about it.
We lose a sense of our humanity when we’re not moved by the plight of others. To quote a pastor I know, “we can not do everything, but we must do something.”
While everyday people like me may not have any say on what decisions are made by governments involved in this conflict, there are certainly ways to play my part. Our response: get educated and get involved.
As stated earlier, we have access to the entire world through our phones. Do a little research, don’t just take a Facebook user’s opinion on the matter. Research viable news outlets. Look at sources outside of America.
I’m thankful for tools, such as this timeline crafted by BBC News, that help give an overview of the history of the conflict.
A quick way to get involved is to donate money. Preemptive Love is an organization that is dedicated to “Loving the People No One Else Will Love.” They are on the ground in war-infested places that were otherwise unreached by any kind of aid.
In Aleppo, they’ve set up a kitchen where thousands are being fed. Aleppo is located with ISIS forces to the west, Turkish-backed rebels to the northwest, Kurdish militias to the northeast, rebels (including Al Qaeda) to the east, and government forces all to the south.
Matthew Willingham, Preemptive Love’s Senior Field Editor, writes, “When families in Aleppo ran for their lives, they didn’t have time to pack a lunch. When bombs are falling, you don’t stop to raid the fridge or whip up a sandwich — you run.”
Since December 2016, donations made it possible to make 790,540 hot meals, 2,000 sleeping bags, and 2,000 food packages. The beautiful thing is refugees, serving refugees, run the hot meal kitchen.
Preemptive Love is passionate about restoring dignity to the person by empowering them to be the change in their community.
It’s hard to imagine leaving my comfortable home, my steady job, my family and friends, and going to a country so ridden with war. It’s easy to leave that job to the missionaries who risk martyrdom. However, all of us have a responsibility to fight on behalf of humanity. We are the answer. Don’t become paralyzed by apathy. Preemptive Love states, “Every day, you make choices that either sustain conflict or transform it.”
For more information on Preemptive Love and ways to get involved, click here.
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