The other day I told some friends of mine that I was against military intervention in Syria’s civil war. One friend sharply criticized my response and suggested that our inaction will lead to the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Syrians. To say the least, my friend’s appeal left me pondering whether or not he was right. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder if further violence would lead to much greater devastation. It seemed to me that there had to be other ways to respond.
I suspect that for many of us watching and reading the news reports of the violence in Syria often feel helpless and some sense of despair. We want to do something for the innocent children, women and men who suffer so much. But the distance, the inability to confront such injustice on our own, impedes our capacity to do good for the people of Syria.
Yet the words and actions of Pope Francis and so many other women and men the past few days reminds us that there are things we can do. We may not be able to be in Syria, but we can unite ourselves to our sisters and brothers living and suffering there. The witness of others has helped me identify three ways we can support those in Syria.
Pray and Fast
Although to many it seems futile to pray and fast for a cause, Pope Francis’ invitation to do so this past week reminded us that we ought to unite ourselves in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Syria. We Christians believe that we share a profound bond with all of God’s people. Simple actions such as prayer and fasting join us with those who may be far. We believe that our God hears and responds to our prayers, as Jesus reminds us: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Fasting and making acts of sacrifice helps us to be in solidarity with those who suffer. Although we may feel only a fraction of what others experience on a daily basis, our simple offerings help us remember those who go without the many things we enjoy.
Each year hundreds of refugees arrive in Canada from Syria and other countries torn by violence and persecution. Many churches and organizations welcome, care and support women and men who come here, such as Romero House in Toronto and the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Refugee Sponsorship Program. Learn more about these programs, find out what your church and diocese is doing and get involved.
There are many organizations effectively working in Syria and other war-torn countries. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace are just two of many organizations serving in Syria, providing relief and aid to the vulnerable and those in need. With your financial support, these organizations can continue their work in those regions and you can support those who are in most need of our help.
These are just a few of the many ways we can join together in helping our brothers and sisters in Syria. What might you do to help our friends in Syria?
-Don Beyers, Marketing Manager