I was going to write a post about toothpaste. Not specifically toothpaste so much as my husband and his toothpaste, but toothpaste nonetheless. And it was going to be funny because dental hygiene is important, but can be humorous too.
But I’m not. Because the other day I was challenged to speak words that mean something, and whilst humour is important, some times you have to let your heart talk, and seeing as I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times in previous weeks, I think it needs to be said.
I have been greatly saddened by the situation in the middle east at the moment. And you could ask, ‘which one?’ and it would be a legitimate question to which I would answer all of them.
I first became aware of the Islamic State (and can I say it grinds to call them that, because it’s stolen power that’s created that name, not legitimate stuff), since I heard about their attack on Mosul in northern Iraq. It made headlines because it was faith-based rampage. Christians in the area were given the choice to convert, leave or die. A horrible attack on civil liberties amongst other things.
As a Christian, I probably took that more to heart than many others would, but it was also a stark reminder to me that in the western world, we are so very, very sheltered. We can say what we like, believe what we like, and do what we like, and the consequences are never as severe as they are in other parts of the world.
Others in overseas countries, are not afforded the same luxury. They have no choice, no freedom, no voice.
There’s an argument that says we should just ignore it; it’s not our fight. I’ve seen this voiced over and over again. ‘Our government needs to worry about things closer to home,’ and yes, there are certainly issues here that need addressing, but this one is just as critical.
But for the last three years there has been civil war in Syria, and for the most part we’ve ignored it. I know I have. An estimated 170 000 killed, and 3 million displaced to other countries, and I’ve paid scant attention. I wrote one post and that was it.
I’m not the only guilty one. The Syrian crisis is such a hard, complex one, that it was easier to place in the too-hard basket and not think about. All the while terrorists of the most violent kind were banding themselves together to create a terrifying regime in the midst of it.
And even now, as a country, there is a reluctance to step in. And I’m not talking about the military or government, I’m talking we as the people. We are safe in our little western world bubble and that is what counts. Too often, we don’t care until it affects us personally and that’s not ok.
We’ve seen a lot of happen in the last thirteen years. September Eleven brought with it a change of culture in many ways, and there has been a lot of bloodshed since then. We’ve lost men and women fighting in battles that don’t touch our shores; other people’s wars it seems. We’ve paid the price for other people’s wrongs. And it’s not fair.
But war never is.
We are a country that is war-weary, this is true. A fact that I can totally understand and sympathise with. And yet we are a country of individuals hungry for a fight. We will fight all day every day over mundane matters on Facebook, as if they mean so much more than they actually do. Thermomix, Apple’s U2 album, you name it and someone’s angry about it.
We joke about first world problems, and we all know that’s what it is when we are complaining about them. But we can only do that, because others have fought the fight for actual problems. We can sit here and argue that there’s no point fighting ISIS because once they are gone someone else will pop up, whilst others will just arm themselves and take on the enemy.
But that’s the thing about justice; that’s the thing about liberty. It doesn’t get tired and stop fighting because the bad guy keeps changing tactics. It keeps going because the end goal is always the same.
I am free to believe what I believe. No one is painting a symbol on my door to label me for persecution. No one is threatening my children or my right to life. I am free. Just as you are.
To choose how we will spend our moments and our lifetimes. To choose what arguments are worth engaging in, and what fights matter enough to be joined.
To decide if we value our liberty enough to want that same freedom for people the world over, even if they aren’t in our backyard.
There are times to be silly, and have fun and write about toothpaste.
And there’s a time to make your words count, and be a voice for those whose have been silenced.
Unicef Syria Appeal- Not sponsored. Just making it available.