It is to our shame, we who watch events in Syria from the comfort of our spoilt western lives, that we have become oblivious to the daily tragedies of bombings, life lived underground, starvation and maiming that are the hallmarks of this deadly Syrian civil war. A particularly ferocious attack is reported then forgotten – but not by the Syrian people: the Syrian conflict, which has not stopped for years, has become like a background noise to we who are far away from it, a noise which gets louder and is un-missable from time to time, but otherwise is just a hum of which we are aware, but do not think too much about.
Today, the volume is turned up again as once again Syrian men, women and children are the victims of another vicious act, part of a drive for power and propaganda involving many countries besides their own government. The cruel use, again, of banned chemical weapons against them a week ago has rightly caught the attention of the rest of a world that has chosen largely to stand by, with exceptions, of course, in the worthy aid organisations and medical volunteers, the White Helmets, and the journalists who strive to convey the message that an appalling multi-stranded conflict is occurring and needs to be stopped – somehow, but now. Who has listened, and how hard?
We watch now and wait to see what Trump, Macron and May will do to show the West’s displeasure at another crossing of a Syrian red line. The political machinery is hard at work to ensure a likely military response is limited and does not enflame relations with Russia and Iran, and it would be wonderful if the diplomatic dialogue were to continue on to attempt to bring about a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflicts.
Let us not turn the volume down again, and let us not accept that barrel-bombing civilian targets in Syria does not deserve our active concern while chemical attacks do. For the victims caught up in a conflict that is not of their making, every attack is horrendous.
Syria is showing each of us the strengths and the frailties of being human, and how we personally and collectively interact with Syria, directly or indirectly, affects our own soul journey as well as those who consider Syria their home. The future of our world depends on the progression of the human race: Syria is our chance to learn, and grow.