“This is Omran. He’s alive and we wanted you to know”. This is what CNN’s Kate Bolduan told us this last week, fighting through tears on live TV, to let us know that Omran and his family had survived an airstrike on their home in Aleppo, Syria. The following video footage shows Omran, bloodied and in total shock, being pulled from what was his family’s house. This coupled with Mrs Bolduan’s tears is powerful enough for any peace loving human to want to take action to help end this conflict.
The question is how. How does one help to de-escalate a war of attrition that is costing hundreds of thousands of lives in Syria alone? With an intermingling of the interests of nation states, the military industrial complex, the profit focus of weapons manufacturers who benefit from any war, individuals who sell misinformation for personal financial gain, media that reports the information it’s meant to report and tens of thousands of people who will fight these battles who’s loyalties are anything but predictable, how would a simple person reading this article want to put compassion to action? This is an almost impossible question to answer, but there are ideas out there that we can support and promote.
Our Times’ mission is ultimately one of facilitating peaceful relations with all people who seek the same, the world over. We therefore suggest the following three action items that any person can take up and bring to bear in an effort to reduce the horrors of war in Syria (or any region of the world, for that matter).
- Donate to charities that can deliver aid, and rebuild basic civil society.
Since Syria’s economy is currently based mostly on war, fighting in the war is one of the only options for people to earn income. But humanitarian aid and aid workers also need to reach those who need it most. This is hindered dramatically by both the Syrian government’s obstruction or by ISIS’s control over wide areas of the country. Humanitarian assistance is meant to not only provide food, water, clothing and other basic necessities, but it is also meant to lay the ground work for a simple functioning society. The international community needs to support organizations that provide this assistance. This means financial aid from individuals who want to help. There are loads of charities to donate to, but some have higher ratings than others for overall effectiveness. Charity Navigator has provided ratings for a list of the best charities to donate to for the Syrian conflict.
- Demand end to bellicose language from political leaders.
Political leaders need to end the use of bellicose language altogether. This can only be done when people demand that they do so, or elect them out of office altogether. In a world of incredible complexities, especially with regard to geopolitics, oversimplification of challenges is totally unsustainable. When leaders shoot of their mouths off by speaking with war-like language, it causes opposite sides to go into defense posturing, who then in turn begin the use of threatening language against those who threaten them. Walking and talking softly is key. Let armed conflict be the last solution, not the first.
- Get to know as many people from around the world as possible.
Social media and social networking connects our planet. English is the world’s most spoken language, and the language of the internet altogether. If you start to take the time to reach out to people from war torn regions around the world, ask questions, and attempt to create authentic connections with other human beings, you will come to feel very quickly that war is not an option, anywhere. You will also feel deeper kinship with people whom you may never meet personally. This makes it much more difficult for political leaders, for-profit interests and the media to sway you with rhetoric that is divisive and overly simplistic. Once more and more people begin to see through the variety of deceptions that facilitate division and misinformation, the political basis for misdirected solutions goes out the door. In short, when people rise up to support their human brethren the world over, despite the misinformation being fed through conventional channels that facilitate a dehumanization of “the other side”, politics will follow and sane solutions are far more likely to result.
While the above suggestions might seem obvious, it is highly necessary to remember them, and to act on them, consistently. If you would like to add any comments or suggestions of your own for how to de-escalate this conflict, please write us at email@example.com. With your actions, images such as the one of Omran will diminish in prevalence.