(Picture from the Washington Post)
The Obama administration takes a step back as a Super Power and refuses to use preemptive strikes even as Russia invades the Ukraine. The community organizer in Obama arises here, as he tries to find other solutions such as sanctions, and bringing together outside nations to support the rebels in Syria. Yet as the killing continues in Syria, and Russia plans on annexing Crimea shortly, it brings the question of what to do in the face of authoritative military power? We’ve all seen the shots of protestors getting shot whether in Tiananmen square or Cairo streets, but how do we come together as a world and address the national powers that insist on using violence against their citizens? What can we do to address what is going on in Syria?
Organizations like Change.org, ask people to sign online petitions to hand to government officials in the hopes that things will change. Questions: Where is the relationship building among supporters? How does this build a shared purpose based on deeper relationships? What happens after we ‘sign’ the petition? Do people feel agency ‘signing’ an online petition? What happens if the petition does nothing?
Other organizations, actforpeace.org.au appeals to our softer side, and asks for money to support Syrian refugees, to which I ask – Why must the main picture be of a poor, sad child? Where is the hope that change will happen? Why must we sell humanitarian crisis to bring people together? Where is the relationship building with peace keeping and prevention organizations?
Peaceinsyria.org asked people to support a Syrian civil society conference on March 8-9th to give the Syrian people a voice in the peace-keeping process, and a conference was held with delegates and activists from Syria and a few international voices. My questions – What next? What was the result of the conference? Where was the press when this happened? What is the agreed declaration or actions to happen afterwards?
I ask these questions not because I have a better answer, or want to put down the brave organizations above trying to make a difference We, at Tatua, do not know the answer to long term peace, but we want to ask the questions that will help us all get there. What are you doing to address the violence in Syria, or the rest of the world?
– Sarah Welch, Tatua Kenya