Syria’s unwanted anniversary

It’s been two years since the Syrian ‘crisis’ began. Two years since CNN and BBC, and now even Al-Jazeera, tell us the same stories they were telling in 1994 about the sad fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Years of failed ‘diplomacy’ had seen millions flee their homes, hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of people around the world who really didn’t give a shit. And who still don’t.

I could be naive or even stupid, but I am more and more convinced that the pressure from grassroots movements across the United States and Europe was the tipping point in influencing western powers to finally put the Bosnian conflict to an end. Some may or may not agree with the means or the end. But it ended the bloodshed. Something I think the Syrians will not see anytime soon.

There are touching stories from Aleppo with almost identical headlines as they had for Sarajevo. The artist who keeps on making art in the midst of the horror. The young girl who risks life and limb to fetch water for her hungry and thirsty family. Reports from refugee camps in Iraq, Turkey or Jordan on the hardships of refugee life. We’ve seen it all. Even though every time we see it we say ‘never again,’ that never again always seems to happen, time and time again, and usually sooner rather than later. So much for wishful thinking, huh?

Esma, 7, and a friend peer out of a tent in Lebanon that has been home to her family since last year

So maybe three years of being ’embedded’ in a brutal conflict has made me cynical. Maybe it just gave me a sour dose of the reality of the geo-political game of chess being played with the lives of millions of us in every corner of our globe. I wonder if we’ll ever realize that in their eyes, we are all simply considered as collateral damage. We are numbers and calculations. Our very human stories don’t really count for much at all on the grand political scale.

The media age now brings us the gore and false glory of war right to our living rooms in real time. And quite frankly I think most of us have become immune to it. We may or may not follow events that, for the people living it, certainly last more than the 30 second clips we get at home. War engulfs every second of every day. It does not let go at any moment in time.

The Syrians, I’m sure, are hopeful someone, sometime in some way will help or intervene. But like Bosnia, I think they are up for a rude awakening. They will continue to be killed. Their children will continue to die. They will be forced to lead humiliating lives in refugee camps and hope and pray that the UN World Food Programme begging for money on CNN interviews will result in another months worth of flour, oil and sugar.

From their cold, wet and damp tents they dream that the ‘international community’ will make a moral and immediate decision to stop things – at whatever the price. But that will not happen. The illusion that there is such a thing as a cohesive ‘international community’ that has the power, or any power for that matter, to end it will soon be replaced with the devastating reality that ‘they’ really don’t care enough to end your nightmare. And for the few that do, there is nothing they can do except share your pain or maybe volunteer in a camp or a make-shift hospital.

Your two year anniversary I’m sure is a not a happy one. Many of your homes are gone. Loved ones killed. Dignity left to linger somewhere between despair and disgust. But the horror will end. Many of you will go back home. Some will not. After the euphoria of ‘peace’ begins to fade…then the real challenge begins. The switch from survival mode to stability is a rocky road. The world will come running in with aid, money and advice. And some of that may or may not trickle down to you. The war mongers will become money mongers.  The moral crisis that always seems to follow in recovery phases of war sometimes seems harder than the war itself. It will be a tough pill to swallow.

Despite the many prophetic-like thoughts on war and its horrors, we always seem to plague ourselves with this universal human ritual. What I find so devastating is the amount of time needed to heal from a war. Several generations are lost before the roots of real peace begin to take. And the process of getting there is a horribly frustrating one. War doesn’t last only for the duration of the violence. It lives and breathes in the generations that follow.

‘There is no honorable way to kill. No gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending.’ Abe Lincoln.

I hope peace finds its way to your doorsteps soon. God speed Syria. peace

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