Higher Ground: Syria and Violence

2 Sep

SyriaI initially had a Labor Day story prepared, but scrapped it because the impending attack on Syria is sticking in my craw. I’m happy to share last year’s Labor Day story if you would rather read that.

I heard President Obama’s speech imploring congress to give the green light to attack Syria and I was left feeling forlorn and felt somewhat betrayed. I thought President Obama was going to be the President who would find a way to remove the United States from wars, yet we are still in Afghanistan. (“Never fight a land war in Asia” — thank you Princess Bride.) I thought this was the president who learned from history about the spoils of war — the great profit machine.

The President repeated the phrase “national security” in his speech, a verbal tic that was disturbingly Bush-y. Those words ring hollow when lives are at stake and no credible evidence shows any real risk to our country. Am I missing something? Can anyone tell me where this threat lies?

Of course I believe we need to offer some way to interrupt the violence and the people being killed via chemical warfare.  But do we have no other options aside from more violence, which has no guarantee of changing the overall system in place in Syria?  As with Iraq and Afghanistan, we know many civilian lives were lost. Are we still comfortable to simply call it “collateral damage?”

Have we asked the people of Syria if they want  help and how they envision what that help might look like?  Have explored the myriad options of what an intervention might look like, aside from violence?

Let us also look at the soldiers that will be sent and the disproportionate number of soldiers of color and lower socioeconomic status who will be fighting. When we lose these lives we also alter our political landscape — we continue to silence an already marginalized and disenfranchised population. Do we learn nothing from history?

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warrin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
I’m so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach the highest ground
Teachers keep on teachin’
Preachers keep on preachin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
Oh no
Lovers keep on lovin’
Believers keep on believin’
Sleepers just stop sleepin’
Cause it won’t be too long

You can hear Stevie Wonder perform this song  here.  I want to believe that people “keep on learnin'”and that we will stop warring, but there is little evidence of that thus far.  I would also add that when voices like John McCain and John Boehner are supporting an attack on Syria, it would seem prudent and wise to alter one’s plan of attack.

10 Responses to “Higher Ground: Syria and Violence”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW September 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Nancy, thank you for reblogging this article. I had a very difficult time writing it. I feel we need to help our brothers and sisters in Syria, but I am just convinced that violence is the answer.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW September 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

        It is so sad. I sure wish I knew the answer. It doesn’t seem to me though that responding with violence will solve the problem; has it ever?

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

        Great question! When has violence been the answer?

  2. Labyrinth-Living September 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    I don’t think violence has ever been the answer, but we don’t seem to have another answer. I have been heart-sick all weekend, and doing the only thing I can do: Pray – that someone will find a better answer/action. Thank you, Michael, for your words.

  3. Labyrinth-Living September 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Reblogged this on Labyrinth.Living and commented:
    Praying for all of us, that peace may prevail somehow.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      RuthAnn, thank you for reblogging this and for the prayers and good energy that peace will prevail.

  4. contemplativeactivist September 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    There has to be alternatives, as you rightly say,to violence as the only tool we have to intervene constructively and creatively. Sadly there is a lack of commitment to creativity throughout Real Politik and it is as ever the ordinary people who pick up the tab. No wonder there is a falling away of participants in our form and practice of the democratic model for self government. Thanks for posting and seeking to speak reason to the unreasonable.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 3, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Thank you for commenting here. Yes, it is us, the “ordinary people who pick up the tab,” fight and die in these wars. The fact that President Obama has secured support form McCain and Boehner speaks volumes of the president’s misstep here.

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