Last time I wrote, I was personally feeling the sting from our US Presidential election results. I felt the sting from the people I loved who seemed to think that those of us hurting were overreacting and that we should get over it. I felt the sting of knowing that I should have done more and that this was just as much my fault as those working on campaigns.
There can be no more idly sitting by.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says in The Prophets, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
Now, the world turns a watchful eye (finally), to Syria. As the Assad regime takes control of rebel held areas, people are fleeing their homes, the land that they love. Can you imagine what they must be feeling?
No. You can’t.
Because most of us have never had to flee anything (I’m talking white America). We haven’t had to leave our homes and our lives behind because we are being persecuted. I have never fled my home, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to walk the streets of a destroyed Chicago as bombs and gunfire litter the streets from a government that cares nothing about me.
When 9/11 happened, New Yorkers banded together and rebuilt. There was much pain, but there was a conquest of love and community over hatred and evil. But this is not the case for the Syrian people. There will be no rebuilding by the people who were attacked, there will be no banding together to overcome hate and evil because the rest of the world has not come to their aid or support like they did for Americans.
As I watch the scenes unfold in pictures and over news outlets, I turn to the item in my office that brings me the most peace and allows me to grasp at something: the Bible.
I have this small pocket Bible given to me by my friend Jessica from my internship as a seminarian. (You would be shocked at how hard it is to find a good pocket Bible.) When I open it up I find the prophet Isaiah, one of the most beloved books in the Old Testament. Isaiah was greatly concerned about justice and called for those in government and power to take care of the people around them and to live into their responsibility as believers and as servants to the people. After all, that’s what civil servants are called to do, right? But it’s not just civil servants, it is anyone who isn’t at the bottom of the food chain. It’s people like you and me. It’s the priesthood of all believers! We all play a part, even if we’re just a fast food worker or a teacher, whether we’re a multi-millionaire or someone who makes enough to be comfortable; we’re still responsible to one another.
It’s that whole, “love your neighbor” thing.
As I read through Isaiah’s words while wearing my “I Stand With Standing Rock” t-shirt I received for donating money, I know that I have not done enough. I am not guilty of setting ablaze or destroying the homes of people in Syria and forcing them to flee, but I am responsible to do something and not sit idly by while justice is perverted and raped all over the world.
A wise theologian and friend recently said, “Humanity will not suck on our watch.” So, let’s not let it suck. If you can’t travel to Standing Rock to be in solidarity, or be in Aleppo to work with the Red Cross, or you aren’t political and don’t know how to speak out, you can still do something. Be active in your community, know what’s going on, know what kind of ripple effect laws and actions have, give money. Money goes a long way. And, frankly, you can’t take it with you when you’re dead, so give it to someone else who needs those extra $10 more than you do.
Go make sure humanity doesn’t suck. That is our job.