I really wanted to write something profound about Syria today.

I’ve got lots of thoughts:

  • There’s nothing we can do that won’t cause more harm than good.
  • There are no good guys we should be supporting.
  • The “maintain credibility” argument is not much better than macho posturing by young men with more testosterone than judgment.  Or maybe it’s just the same argument wearing an expensive suit.
  • The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to war – why is our supposedly anti-war President moving us toward it?
  • Some people in places like Washington and Paris and Moscow who have more power than ethics or sense are playing games and the stakes are lives.
  • This is what empires do when they go into decline and no one wants to accept the new reality.

See, I’ve got lots of thoughts.  I happen to think they’re good thoughts.  They’re not very pleasant thoughts, but they explain why I wrote my Congressman last night and implored him to vote against military action in Syria.  That’s something I just don’t do – I live in a very red district and the odds on my Congressman paying attention to my opinion are usually somewhere around the odds of being struck by lightning on a clear day.

But when I tried to weave all that into an essay, I got nothing.  No convincing cases built on sound logic.  No emotional pleas to stay away from another Iraq or Afghanistan.  No insightful analyses of geopolitical trends.  Not even any morality plays on the abuse of power.

I’ve heard it said that “writer’s block” is just another word for laziness.  It means the writer is unwilling to do the work of organizing thoughts and expressing them in words.  I know that’s usually true in my case.  If the words won’t come, then it’s time to develop an outline and start filling it in.  If the outline won’t come, just start writing and see where the Awen leads.

This time neither approach is working.

Maybe I haven’t done enough research.  Maybe some of my thoughts border on conspiracy theories, or at least wild speculation, and I’m afraid to give them voice.  Maybe deep down my desire to do something to stop the killing is so strong it’s sabotaging my efforts to write an anti-war essay.  Or maybe it’s just that I know the people who read this blog don’t need convincing and the people who need convincing don’t read this blog.

Or maybe I really am blocked – there’s something in the way that won’t let me concentrate on anything else until I deal with it.  I’m normally good at multitasking, but sometimes a thought or a concept – or a god – grabs me and won’t let go until I do what I need to do.  Perhaps I can’t write about Syria because there’s something else I need to write about – or at least think deeply about – first.

So I’m going to spend this weekend in deep introspection.  I’m going to wrestle with my vision of the future of the world:  what’s likely, what’s fantasy, and what’s irrelevant.  I’m going to revisit my calling as a Druid and a priest – how can that calling be best expressed in the world we actually live in?  And I’m going to do my best to be brutally honest in assessing where I’m well-prepared to fulfill that calling and where I need further study – where I need to start filling in those open bookshelves.

But every so often, I’m going to pause from my introspection and say a prayer for the people of Syria, and a prayer for the leaders of the United States of America.

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  • huntermoon

    It strikes me that the only real analysis that needs to be done, but is sorely missing in the mainstream press, is an analysis of exactly why the U.S. wants to intervene in the first place. Saving lives can’t be the real reason or we would have done it two years ago. Chemical weapons can’t be the real reason or we would have done it months ago, at the very least.

    If you answer this question, then you may have an essay, or even an essay series.

    • I think some of it is foreign policy wonks playing their “great game” without considering what they’re using as pieces. I think some is an attempt to reduce Russia’s influence in the region. I think some of it is Obama worrying about being remembered as the President who “let that happen”.

      But I also think there’s more to it than that. If I could answer it, I’d have an essay series, or a Pulitzer Prize… or maybe a one way ticket on a 2 AM flight to Guantanamo.

      • Robert Scott McKnight

        One thing that bothers me about all of this is really the consequences. Who would we help by bombing? More hardliners? Assad? Putin? It sure wouldn’t help the everyday people suffering which are the people we should be helping. No, this is a humanization problem. Those pictures of dead women and children? Those people aren’t real to us anymore. We are so very disconnected with each other, with our actual physical presence as human beings, that people are simply not real. Even when those of us capable of empathizing with these people cry for their loss, we cry for the abstract not the reality.

        Until I started, really started, my journey in paganism I didn’t know how unreal most people seemed to me. It’s like everything was just an illusion. I am just now finally starting to wake up to reality. I think just about everyone is in the same boat. We have a few people we have actual physical contact with and that is the extent of reality.

        What we really have to come to accept is that they are all real as well. They have pain, joy, exasperation, and love just like the rest of us. They are afraid when the fighting and soldiers come. More bombs and missiles will not help that. It can’t.

        In the end, what will solve this conflict of inhuman greed and avarice for power will not be bombs or bullets. It will be human touch. The helping hand with the bandage. The village building a new water pump. Human things. Unfortunately, unlike leaders of old that worked along with the people they ruled, today’s leaders will remain deliberately disconnected from the reality of their actions. Their handlers will make it so, because they feel they must to achieve any glory for themselves.

        Sorry for rambling.

  • mtnwaterleaf

    I had pretty much given up on politics and politicians, but your post got me to write to my very red, very pro-war congressman, more out of duty than hope for results, I admit.
    It’s interesting that even before reading your post I had decided to do make this Monday a personal fast day, with meditation & prayer interspersed as time allows in the workday.
    Thank you for writing.

  • I keep wondering if the apparent support of the Obama administration for war with Syria is an elaborate manipulation — i.e., appearing to support it is the only way to make sure the Republicans oppose it, thus making it ultimately possible NOT to go to war. One can hope, right?

    • I think Obama sent it to Congress to keep an unpopular war from being labeled as “his” war in the next campaign – not that a Congressional vote will stop RNC ads from blaming it on him anyway.

      I think deep down, Obama doesn’t want to go to war, but a lot of people he put into high ranking positions do, and they have his ear.

      As my mother used to say, be careful of the company you keep.

  • Jennifer

    I tell you what you could do to help to people of Syria- donate as much as you can spare to a charity which is giving medical aid to the people of Syria, and aid to the refugees who are fleeing the conflict. Encourage everyone you know to do the same. My chosen charity is Doctors without Borders. Pick a different one if you like, but please give some money. All of it will help real people who are suffering.