More From Alder's Ledge

July 12, 2012

Gutless, Cowardice, Apathetic

Failure of Humanity in Syria
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. - Albert Einstein 

In time we will be able to look back at Syria and wonder how the world could afford to set on the sidelines and watch as the innocent paid the price for one man's depraved lust for power. It will be with the same eyes and the same state of mind with which we look back on Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and all those other wretched chapters of our past. No words or mere thoughts of good intentions that may have been will dull the fact that we did not act. And the United Nations will be made no greater an organization by their failure to stop the slaughter. 

In the eyes of those children who have already passed before us... we are no less monsters than the man who sent them to their deaths. 

Today we ask once more... and forever more it seems... can we not stop the bleeding of a generation? Can we not save at least some of what Assad's regime has set forth to destroy? Or will all of Syria be offered up as a sacrifice to the rule of tyranny and made the graveyard of democracy? 

Setting here in the Midwest I feel myself surrounded by people who fear Syria. Their ideas of what it is to be Syrian are comprised of their fears of what it means to be Muslim. Behind the veil through which we look at Syria from here I know lays a nation of far different people than what has been described to me. But for lack of words, and lack of knowledge it may seem, I have no better way to describe the people my heart feels so strongly for. 

Not to long ago while talking to one of the few people I know who cares about Syria and its people I was shocked by one line in our conversation. It was simple really. Yet those words passed through my mind no more awkward than they had before as I pondered what they meant over and over again. 

"Its funny you are the one who is talking about this."

 My friend is a good G-d fearing Christian man. And thankfully, from all I know about him, that love of G-d seems to prevent him from ignoring the tragedy laid out before us. So despite our differing religious affiliation there really isn't anything different about us. So I had to wonder why it seems odd for a Jew to fight for Syria. 

Perhaps it has nothing to do with religion at all. Maybe what is odd here isn't a matter of belief but more perplexing in the fact it has more to do with geography. 

The world seems smaller and smaller to me every day. One day I will be researching Syria and Assad and then the next (through the power of the Internet) I'm off to Myanmar to study what little is available on the Rohingya. Every now and then I do seem to come back to my original fixation however... the Roma of Europe. But no matter where the human rights violations occur... I'm stuck here in the middle of nowhere. 

And it is that exact point of the globe I have the most trouble relating to... the middle of nowhere. 

Looking around the Midwest it is hard to imagine what we looked like just one generation ago. New cultures and ethnic groups move here everyday. And with them come new religions, food, and dress. But it seems like once people arrive here... the rest of the world drifts away. 

And that is where my conflict with the United States, and my home in it, begins. 

How is it that as Syria burns the media here seems content to cover every last little thing Obama does? Do we really need to know who's living room he was setting in in an attempt to win a few more cheap votes? Do we really need to know what Michelle Obama is up to every day? Isn't the death of even just one Syrian child more important that what the cast of Jersey Shore is doing? 

Not so much in American society. Instead we focus on the most obscure parts of our daily lives in every attempt to avoid the suffering of others. In the entire 17 months of the Syrian tragedy I have seen perhaps (and this is generous) 15 minutes of news coverage. And that is not excluding the national nightly news groups.

A minute of news coverage for every month... if we round up and add to minutes. Is that the best we can do?

Then there is the lack of willingness on the part of people here to even talk about Syria. In almost every conversation I have had (many of which I had to hijack and guide to the subject) I'm the only one doing any of the talking. Annoying my friends and family I am sure. But that isn't the point. 

We don't want to focus on Syria now either out of lack of understanding or fear that it might be to depressing. So when are we going to address the issue? Maybe we will just wait till our children are being taught about it in school 10 or 15 years down the road... if they are ever taught about it at all. 

Genocide is never a subject people want to talk about. It is a subject of conversation that is often given excuse after lame excuse to justify. I have personally been told time and time again that it is just part of the human condition. That everybody and every culture has done it and it is bound to happen again. 

Are we really meant to believe that? That sounds an awful lot like the old "if everybody else was doing it would you" line doesn't it? 

So the question I guess all this brings up is just how can someone from the middle of nowhere USA help save Syria? 

Cold hard cash. After all money speaks a lot more loudly than just hollow words. And it goes a lot further than good intentions. 

Here are some of the sites you can visit if you are interested in helping Syrian refugees. This is the most direct approach to helping needy families who have already fled the country and made it to Lebanon or Turkey. It will help these families remain in the countries that currently keep them out of the reach of Assad's thugs.

Global Giving

UNHCR UN Refugee Agency

Mercy USA

If you are not comfortable giving money there are other ways you can help end the suffering in Syria. This way requires a little more work. And may not be as affective... but it sends a message to Washington.

Contact your state representative in Washington and tell him/her that you want the United States to get involved and end the crisis in Syria. For those of you in the middle of nowhere here are a few contacts to start with. 

Congressman Mike Pence 

Washington DC
100 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3021 office
(202) 225-3382 fax 
1134 Meridian Plaza
Anderson, IN 46016
(765) 640-2919 office
(765) 640-2922 fax 
50 North 5th Street
Richmond, IN 47374
(765) 962-2883 office
(765) 962-3225 fax  
107 West Charles Street
Muncie, IN 47305
(765) 747-5566 office
(765) 747-5586 fax

Congressman Pete Visclosky 

Washington Office
2256 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone (202) 225-2461
Fax (202) 225-2493

Merrillville, Indiana Office 
7895 Broadway, Suite A
Merrillville, Indiana 46410
Phone (219) 795-1844 or
(888) 423-7383
Fax (219) 795-1850

Congressman Marlin Stutzman

Washington, DC Office

Representative Marlin Stutzman 
1728 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4436
Fax: (202) 226-9870

Winona Lake Office

Representative Marlin Stutzman 
700 Park Ave.
Winona Lake, IN 46590

Phone: (574) 269-1940
Fax: (574) 269-3112

Kendallville Office

Representative Marlin Stutzman 
874 North Lima Road, Suite B
Kendallville, IN 46755

Phone: (260) 599-0554
Fax: (260) 599-0557

Fort Wayne Office

Representative Marlin Stutzman 
1300 South Harrison Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Phone: (260) 424-3041
Fax: (260) 424-4042

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