It was the pictures of Syrian babies, being caressed by their helpless parents as they jerked and shivered in their neurological misery, victims of chemical death rained down upon them by the leader of their country, that moved the heart of the leader of my country to tenderness and action.
And I ask, in God’s name, in the name of Allah, in the names of Shiva and Brahma, in the names of the teachers, of Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, in the names of the mothers of the world: why has it taken so long?
Yes, it is good that we bombed planes and arms, not places where civilians live.
But what now?
How do the fathers who held those babies till they died, pick up and go on? If peace were proclaimed tomorrow, how do they put themselves back together and rebuild cities, a country, their lives?
And how do the mothers cope? Pregnant again, how do they keep from going crazy, in their dreams, in their fears?
If invited, in some unimaginable future, to vote for a leader, how do they take themselves to the polls? Assad, you will remember, was elected.
On July 16, 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after taking 88.7% of votes in the first contested presidential election in Ba’athist Syria’s history. (Wikipedia)
July 16, 2014. And see what has come from that memorably hopeful day. How do you get yourself to try voting again, after the man you, and 88.7%of your family and friends voted for, has done this to your children?
In Syria, an ancient and intricate civilization, possessing rare and amazing libraries, scrolls of knowledge, mosques and cathedrals considered marvels of antiquity, lies in rubble. The children of Syria have not gone to school for years now. And those who have survived the bombings, the running from town to town, living in ruined cellars without electricity and with no food but the dogs in the streets and occasional bags of food relief, some wheat and some bottled water, can be little more than homeless dogs in spirit now. Some cringe and some bite.It seems like a miracle that Donald Trump felt mercy and compassion, and that he spoke from this part of his heart.
That part of him that has been a loving, devoted father, responded here, despite the ugly voices of the Bannons in his inner circle.
But already voices of warning are calling out to him to hold off on doing more.
And clearly no one knows what the answer, for Syria, is. The chess men move on the global board of world power, knights and bishops have already fallen.
The game is not over, though Syria, the earliest flower of Christianity, the wisest flower of Islam, the other destination of the Damascus Road, which brought Rome to Jerusalem and Jews to Europe, Syria has become Rachel, weeping for her children because they are not.
Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Sufi (Moslem) mystic, wrote,
Alas, don’t tell me the Christians are lost.
Don’t tell me the Jews are lost.
Don’t tell me the infidels are lost.
Alas, my brother you are lost, that is why everyone else seems lost.
We are lost, for the world cannot continue to live in the destruction of Syria, without nightmares plaguing our peace and death in its most terrible forms haunting our dreams. How fearful we are of terrorist acts, but the real terror lives among us, and in us, not ‘out there.’
It is said that over the main door of the Melkite Coptic Cathedral of Homs, were inscribed these words of Rumi’s:
Where Jesus lives, the great-hearted gather.
We are a door that is never locked.
If you are suffering any kind of pain,
Stay near this door. Open It.
The doors, and the Cathedral, are in rubble now. But the invitation remains, for the great-hearted to gather.
Image: Syrian Children after Chemical Attack. eewiki.newint.org