For the majority of you reading this, tonite will loosely follow a decades long behavior pattern. We’ll return to our homes, in pretty nice vehicle, unload some groceries, and begin the evening’s preparation for “the average American’s home life”.
A delicious dinner and the clean-up, then our laptops will open, the big-screen HD TV will spring to life, and we’ll retreat into the distractions that help us avoid actually involving ourselves in anything that would lower our “pleasure quotient”. As the evening wanes toward bedtime, we’ll let the dog out, turn the heat down to our “comfort” setting, complete the rituals of sleep-time bathroom necessities, and crawl into our cozy, warm, beds-awaiting the arrival of restful sleep.
On the other side of our planet, a completely different ritual is taking place. Lights in the home consist of shrouded candles, or, from the flame of a small cooking fire–electricity a dim memory, cut-off weeks ago. The faintest light is a liability-likely to draw the targeting attention of mortar-fire, or the rattle of small-arms fire. Frightened parents do what they can to shelter their vulnerable children and seniors-praying the destruction raining down on their neighborhood, will somehow avoid the fragile sanctuary of their outer walls. Here, there will be no blissful sleep, no uninterrupted dreams, no freedom from the fear that has gripped them for weeks…this is daily life in Homs, Syria.
They worship God in a different fashion, they wear different clothing, the food they will consume will represent what they could glean during a dangerous trip to one of the few remaining markets. With the constant threat of snipers shooting indiscriminately at anything moving, the random mortars fired by their own government troops, make even a trip for fresh water for daily needs a life-threatening exercise. Medical care for the wounded is in the form of a “home visit” (maybe), from one of just a handful of trained doctors and medics left to care for the countless hundreds of wounded. Daily, dozens die because their isn’t medical care anywhere near.The hospitals have long since been leveled by the government tanks and bombs- the very act of even burying dead family members brings the very real threat of assassination by troops loyal to President Assad. This self-appointed leader, is in reality, a ruthless dictator, maintaining power thru the annihilation of his own citizens that have dared ask for free elections and a “voice” in the future of their country. To do anything short of complete submission to this vicious murderer, is an invitation to an immediate death sentence.
I truly never paid much attention to Syria, or Libya, or Egypt…they all seemed so far away-removed from any importance in my life. With the dawning of the “Arab Spring” movement, now a year old, I have slowly been drawn into the fascination of watching individual countries rise up-demanding freedom of choice, for all citizens. Their battle has not been dissimilar from the very founding years that built our country-a quest for religious and political choices, the fundamental right to think and act as we see fit-(without causing harm to our fellows) this is the vision of all oppressed populations, worldwide. They have seen the fruits of freedom, and they desire a fair share! Unreasonable-punishable BY DEATH? I don’t believe so.
My only request from any of you, is this: when you complete your “nightlies”, just before Mr Sandman arrives-take a precious moment to FEEL the fear and pain of those across that vast sea. Fortunately, we have never known the level of hardship faced by every one of those frightened mothers and fathers, never felt sheer terror from those who should be protecting us, and never buried our children in a hurried dig in the dead of night.
In this “Land of the Free”, I believe a small prayer for our brothers and sisters is not too much to expect. I just could not continue to be silent.