Aleppo, Indifference, and Complicity

I decided to attend the final lecture in OU’s Presidential Dream Course on Syrian Christianity as another of my international events. The final lecture was by Dr. Christian Sahner, a historian who teaches at St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Sahner’s book is called Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present, and it has acquired quite a bit of critical support. Resumé aside, it was immediately evident that Dr. Sahner is a brilliant man. He spoke very directly and eloquently about the current civil war in Syria, the siege of Aleppo, and the historical context that led to the current political environment. It was a privilege to listen to his lecture, because he did not pretend to have easy answers, but he did display a genuine desire to facilitate an informed conversation about what is happening in Syria.
As I write this post, I am reading the news, and I must stop to address the current developments. After a four year long siege, the city of Aleppo has fallen. Reports have surfaced of Assad’s men executing civilians in the streets of Aleppo. Numerous other reports have surfaced of women committing suicide to avoid rape and abuse by the soldiers entering the city. The New York Times called the situation “A complete meltdown of humanity.” It is incomprehensible to me what has happened in Aleppo for the past four years. One of the oldest continuously populated cities in the history of the world has been nearly razed to the ground. Countless civilians, women, and children have been slaughtered while the world watched. We were able to watch the situation develop on our televisions for years, and the conflict has reached the same end it would have if we had not seen a thing. Why? I know that international politics is messy, but I have the unshakeable feeling that today we are on the wrong side of history because of our apathy. I am reminded of Elie Wiesel’s words from his memoir Night: “Action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.”

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