Don't Be Silent
I was in the subway during the morning rush hour, occupying myself with today's headlines in the papers and there it is again...more civilian casualties in the ongoing Israel-Lebanon conflict. I can't stand looking at images of suffering children. The situation seems to be worsening every day. Suddenly there was this intense emotion and urge to do something other than looking away.
So I did 2 things today. By now I'm feeling very silly over one of them.
- I sent out an email to my boss suggesting that the pot-luck lunch my department is organizing this Friday to celebrate our nation's independence, be turned into a charity lunch instead, to raise funds for humanitarian aid for victims of this conflict.
- I asked a brother-in-Christ, who is also a co-worker, if he is willing to help draft a letter of appeal for ceasefire to the American and Israeli Embassy here.
If anyone is expecting me to take sides and spew venom on either parties, you're at the wrong blog. This is not the time to push blame and point fingers. There is so much we do not know. But one thing we do know; thousands of civilians (Jews, Christian, Muslim and others) are paying with their lives daily and it breaks our heart especially when a vast majority of the victims are children. It pushes our conscience to do something to either stop or alleviate their suffering or at least voice our protest. We must stop fanning the fires of hatred and start spreading the spirit of forgiveness and peace and stand in solidarity with those who are suffering. Stop talking about who is right and who is wrong or if this is God's will or if this party or that party deserves it or if this is a sign of the Final Battle and if so, to hasten it's coming and ya da ya da ya da. You will never get to the bottom of it. You will only generate more hatred and cause more suffering. So please stop.
Do something that will be of help instead. Besides prayer, fasting and financial aid you can also help by signing petitions to call for a ceasefire. I've included 2 links below. You may also want to google it. There are many more online petitions. I've already spend a good hour signing them this morning. A note of caution though. There are some online petitions which supports one party alone and is use to justify their acts. So please read them carefully. If you're sending donations for humanitarian aid, a good way to spread peace and show your support for the suffering of all (not just those of your own religion) is to send them to organizations that represent the other races or religion. So if you're a Christian, you can send your donations to your local mosques and synagogues as well as your own church, instead of just your church alone. Include a note expressing your sorrow and support for the suffering of their people and let them know you're praying for them as well. The message you will be sending is one of unity regardless of religion. Often Jews, Christians and Muslims think they're each others enemy but in reality we are cousins. We share the same spiritual heritage. If anything, we ought to be the ones that understand each other the most and are the closest. Although I do not think religion is the main issue with the current conflict, there is no harm fostering stronger bonds with each other and showing that we also care about their suffering. There are other humanitarian organizations that benefit all, regardless of race or religion. eg World Vision, Red Cross, UNICEF. You may also send your donations there by contacting their local office.
A lot of people are asking how and what they should pray for specifically. I'll try to consolidate some model prayers and prayer requests and post them here as soon as possible. Do come back to check. Prayer is the most powerful tool especially when we are faced with issues so big they're beyond our control.
I'll leave you with this Open Letter to the people of Lebanon and Israel. It was written by venezuelan, Jose Arocha. This is the kind of message we should be spreading instead of fault-finding ones that does more harm than good.
"First, I would like to express my sorrow for what you are going through. You both feel hurt. I am sorry for your families in pain. My condolences and thoughts are with you.
I have been engaged reading the stories, looking at the heart-breaking images, reading the discussions in online fora, news media and blogs. Some people justify war in the name of honor, faith or national pride and interests. I respect their position. However, in my core, I cannot justify war.
I believe that life is our utmost precious right and our source of joy. The life of a Lebanese or an Israeli girl could be the life of my children. For me, every girl counts. Every life is sacred. I cannot justify the stabbing of any single life.
In the previous times of history, signed by the lack of understanding and means of communications, many were the myths, many the misunderstandings, many the misconceptions, many the fears of the unknown. War was a human reaction to secure the life of the closest ones.
Today, July 2006, in the era of knowledge, information and communication, our human culture still drags those old paradigms to the management of conflict. In many circumstances we have not been equipped with the ability to dialogue, the understanding that nature demands a giving to gain, that our social nature is a conversation continuum of trade-off and negotiation. Today, dialogue is our ultimate tool for the survival and advancement of life.
On the other hand, our natural social and cultural evolution also drags a history of psychological and emotional wounds. In the process of learning, we have made many mistakes. We have. And we could have not expected otherwise. For such is our nature. But this also implies, that as a human race, forgiving is of utmost importance to move on as society. The contrary is just jail for our existance and a vicious cycle of hatred and death passed to our children. Could we embrace learning, failure and forgiving as society?
To the hearts and minds of the Lebanese and Israeli, to the hearts and minds of every human being on this single and only earth, I beg you: Let us stop war with each other.
Let us embrace dialogue, learning and forgiving. Let us stop this suffering and embrace the joy of understanding. Let us leave war behind as a means of negotiation. Let us embrace each other in dialogue, learning and trading-off for the sake of every human life and the future of our children.
Peace be in you."
For those of you wanting to keep tabs on the situation from non-American perspectives, the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz are major Israeli newspapers (ynet is also useful), and here is a complete directory of Lebanese news sites.
Petition by Ceasefire Campaign
Petition by Amnesty USA