About Syria

The Guardian newspaper reports that the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (whose website has too much Arabic for Western readers) estimates that the war in Syria has resulted in 470,000 dead, 1.9 million wounded, and 45% of the population displaced. (The UN reported 250,000 dead, but they stopped counting in 2014 and the Centre has better access to local data). The staggering figures which are matched by the nightly reports on the refugee crisis in Greece, Turkey, Jordan and the whole area pound our conscience. A Los Angeles Times editorial February 11th asks where is the outrage? To a person the people I know and have spoken to are moved by the situation. It has elicited compassion and brought home how fortunate we are, and how easily our lifestyle which we so take for granted could disappear. And yet people in the main feel helpless as to what they could do. The absent outrage stems from our policy makers who seem more rapt in the spectacle of current US politics than in attending to the issues they are meant to address. I must grant that as of this writing Secretary Kerry negotiated a cease fire to begin in a week and humanitarian aid to begin immediately. Even if the cease fire holds, a big if, and the peace talks can resume, much more needs to be done. What we the average person can do in the name of our humanity, in the name of our citizenship is write letters and make calls to pressure decision makers to do what they were elected to do. We can also contribute to the number of NGOs and other groups working with refugees. The friend of a friend spent a month in Greece tending to arriving refugees. Most may not have the means to do what she did, but we can do something. And if we’re not sure, then we can ask ourselves, what would we want citizens of other countries to do for us if we were in the shoes of the people of Syria?