Day after day, the devastation carries on. Damascus. Aleppo. Homs. Dabiq. The devastation of a war waged on innocents by powerful forces from every side. Ambitiously plunging ahead, violence and mayhem cast aside all restraints and assert their power without heed for the weak and the vulnerable. There is no sign of it stopping, now or ever. Peace, peace, yet a sword.
First the sounds of revolution sweeps through a country weary of heavy handed rule. This revolution does not know it invites a worse doom, carrying black banners through the deserts of an unprepared nation. Unprepared, like all the rest of us, but who will care when another country at the center of the world falls to pieces under the force of terror? The powerful respond slowly, they talk about caring, but mostly they just twiddle their thumbs and hold discourses in low, calm voices, not heeding the cries of men, women and children weighed down by the storms of war.
But then it starts, that first shot ringing out into the crowds in Damascus on that unsuspecting day five short years ago. Soon the blood pours out not just from those bodies but from the well of chaos that has welled up in anticipation of this moment for so long. An Arab spring but no, an Arab winter, because now this scene is frozen in time to be repeated over and over and over until none can stand to hear about it any longer, and for a split second in time they will raise their voices and talk of doing something, anything to make it all go away.
And then they do nothing. The black banners parade through the streets, the good bad and ugly cross swords in the night though none can see clearly who is brother sister mother or father. All they see is another body fall in the darkness, another flame turning to embers. All they feel is the surprising touch of human skin and bone mixed with the coarse ruins of the earth, the buildings tumbled down into ruins. All they smell is the rotting flesh as the chariots of the enemy and those who would call themselves friends rolling away in the distance. All they have left is nothing at all.
Moscow and Washington, Paris, and London, Berlin and Beijing, they will all shed their crocodile tears in conference rooms, let their insincere feelings bleed onto papers that will carry little weight against the sound of hate. In Syria there is no mercy, there is only brutal, relentless action and reaction. A brother for a brother, a hospital for a government building, a school for a military base, a crowd of children for a squadron of fighter planes. Inhumanity at its finest.
Dawn breaks. There is only one flame left in Syria, not of revolution or of terror or even of the wrath of the sword of the rulers of the land, but the flame of remembrance. And if the flame of remembrance should die or should only remain a flame by which to mourn the winner and the loser both and if it should never turn into a flame of hope or longing or redemption then why are we here.
In this war nobody wins. We ourselves wishing away the ugly specters of hatred and conflict, that is only a desire for magical transformation that cannot prosper, a pipe dream that has no substance, a false light at the end of a tunnel where the roof has caved in. In Syria, we witness the flame that consumes the whole world, the flame of mourning and remembering and regretting the things that we ought to have done and the things that we ought not to have done because by not trying to do some small thing we did the worst thing of all. Peace is not magic. Not revolution. Not instant transformation. It is small. It is quiet. It is steady. It is consistency. It is faithfulness. It is trying and doing. Trying to do something. Trying. Try. Just try.
Blessed are those who mourn. For they shall. Be. Comforted.
Who We Are
The Karis Initiative is a non-profit organization that acts as a hub for training, consulting, and philanthropic work in technology, education and the arts. Through our partnerships with organizations in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, we strive to facilitate resolution and reconciliation between communities in conflict.