In which I don’t understand Syria

This week, Egypt is figuring out their first election, and, you, Syria, you are burying your babies in Houla.

I don’t know you very well, Syria, but today, my heart is with you. I can hardly bear to look at the images, to read the news trickling from your borders, in a smuggled and anguished whisper? It’s been more than a year, we all rallied on Twitter and cheered the Arab Spring, now it’s months and months later, I watch the news and almost the only thing I can say, almost the only thing any of us have been able to say for more than a year, is what the hell is going on in Syria? How is this happening?

You’re at a tipping point now, the UN tells us, since the massacre at Houla. The peace plan has not been implemented. There is no humanitarian corridor. Refugees are trapped. The massacres, the torture, the bombings, the systematic rape of your women and your young men, the bloodshed, it continues, and somehow, still, you are hopeful that you will be free.

Or so I hear.

Image via BBC News

Today my government expelled the regime’s diplomats from our country. This step of isolation is a necessary diplomatic one, probably long overdue, but it doesn’t feel like enough, when I see the mass graves, when the grieving men lift up the bodies of their children to shove their lifeless and crippled bodies at the television cameras, here, here, here, you are keening and begging us all to look at your children, look at them, there, dead in your arms.

I had to turn away, I could not bear the sight of your loss and grief.

I don’t understand you very well, Syria, we’re so far away from each other in so many ways. I don’t understand the politics, I don’t understand the religion, I don’t understand the nuances and the sides, I don’t understand the history, I don’t understand how and why and who. I want to understand, I want to know more, but I don’t think I ever could truly understand, how could I?

But here, in my safe and secure home, in free and democratic Canada, I want to understand you, I want to stand with you for peace. I understand grief, I understand fear, I understand love, I understand justice, I understand the yearning for freedom, I understand courage, I understand the human spirit, and I see those beautiful and tragic truths in your people.  I am weeping for your children, for you my Syrian sisters and brothers, and I am praying for peace, praying for strength, I am praying like it matters.

Be strong. We are with you.

To donate towards humanitarian relief, check out the International Committee of the Red Cross (working with Syria’s Arab Red Crescent.)



peace, politics, social justice

12 Responses to In which I don’t understand Syria

  1. Kari May 30, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Saw your request on Twitter. This is a couple of months old now, but I always find that John Green is great about explaining the history of this complicated stuff. 

  2. Kelly @ Love Well May 30, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    I feel the same, Sarah. I listened to some thoughtful and informative experts this morning. All are frustrated.

    Meanwhile, the people die.

  3. HopefulLeigh May 30, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Heartbreaking. I have no words.

  4. Sis May 30, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    It’s easy to forget the suffering of others when our lives our so easy.  Thanks for the reminder that all is not well.

  5. D.L. Mayfield May 30, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Whoa. my sister (plus her hubs and their to-die-for-cute 10 month old baby) hopped on a plane to Egypt today. It shouldn’t change things, but it does–now my heart is ever more present in the middle east. It’s good to know others are praying and listening and watching too. 

  6. Janae Maslowski May 30, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    Thank you for writing about this and for including a site where donations could be made. 
    I know giving money won’t fix the problem, but to care for the people in the midst, that I can do!
    Much love to you and your tender heart. xo Janae

  7. Adriel Booker May 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Oh, God’s heart is so for the Middle East right now. SO.

    It’s complicated and messy and confusing, but not beyond his reach.

    Praying, too.

  8. Glenda Childers May 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    What a beautiful piece you have written here, Sarah. Having grown up in war, I remember some of these feelings. But now from the safety of my own safe home … it is easy to forget. Thanks for honoring these people, that God loves.


  9. Amber May 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    You give words to my emotions. I see the images, listen to and read npr, and I’m so confused. But my heart and tears are with the people there. I hope that something beautiful emerges from all of this.

  10. From Tracie May 31, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    I feel this same way – my mind does not understand exactly what all is happening over there, but my heart is breaking for the people. 

  11. Beth June 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Yes.  Oh, yes.  Thank you for putting this into words.

  12. Rebecca June 10, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    I was taking a class on terrorism as these events unfolded and our teacher kept us abreast of what was happening. Coupled with other stories about terrorist activities it turned out to be a heartbreaking semester for me and I couldn’t bear to continue following what was happening. Their story needs to be told, however, and you did a beautiful job.

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