October 27, 2019
THIS IS NOT US
The tragedy that is Syria is heart-breaking and immoral. It ought to outrage any human being who has any sense of dignity and self-respect. The treatment of the Kurds by Mr. Trump and his policies is no less than a despicable act of self-serving expediency at the expense of other people’s lives and well-being.
Many of us feel a sense of powerlessness as our sense of alarm rises each and every day. We are dismayed that so many religious people support these policies of destruction and death. Everywhere we turn we see the poor neglected, the powerless marginalized, the greedy empowered, and the powerful emboldened. We wonder when the madness of these destructive policies will end. We wonder how we ever got into this situation. Here are some reflections to help cope with the pain and sorrow of the moment.
The idea that war is the solution to the problems that often exist between Nations is now bankrupt. We are on the verge of realizing what peacemakers have been saying all along. We must meet one another as human beings. The powerful are those who would take the initiative to understand, cherish, and empathize with a would be enemy. We are learning the necessity of talking to one another rather than about one another.
The time is rapidly dawning when the humanization of strangers will take precedence over the politics of dehumanization. Our social and global communication technologies put a real human face on those who suffer the injustice of war, genocide, racism, and sexism in all its forms. We, as global citizens, must become more and more savvy with the social technologies if we would be faithful citizens of the Nation and the World.
The Kurds are a case in point. While they fought on our behalf against ISIS, the Administration now thinks of them as a throw-away item. Since the war is declared to be over, Mr. Trump would have us believe we have no responsibility beyond our own self-interest. We must see the Kurds as people realizing that they deserve to be treated better than a disposable item. Our sense of shock as to how our President can allow these people to be mistreated reminds us of our common decency. Our moral outrage is a rallying call to treat others as we would have them treat us.
No matter our station in life, we each have a responsibility to treat those around us with respect and kindness. The heartbreaking events unfolding in our World today remind us how important it is to have conversion of heart, mind, and soul. We must go out of our way to learn the truth of what is happening. We must confront our prejudices and engage our fears by meeting other people with respect and openness of heart and mind. We must support those who protest and engage those charged with political and governmental power. We must invite our places of worship to be centers of understanding and reconciliation.
Finally, we must be willing to witness to what is good, just, and true even if we are apparently defeated in the pursuit of what is right. We cannot fall prey to the forces that suggest might is right. St. Paul put it this way, “Conquer evil with good, do not let evil defeat you. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this World but be transformed by a complete change of your mind.” As your heart breaks, so it opens to see an enemy as not too different from yourself, to see a stranger as a friend in the making, to see the time of trouble as the opportunity to practice the peace that lives in your heart.
Gratitude to all of you who seize the moment of conflict and division with courage, love, and understanding.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P., and The Board of Directors of
The Interfaith Peace Project