Overwhelmed by the Issues? Focus on People Before Problems


This story from PBS NewsHour is worth your time. Please take a few minutes to watch it starting at the 10-minute mark.

News coverage of the crisis in Iraq and Syria has been rare since the battle for Mosul officially ended. And when camera crews pack up and journalists move on to the next story, the world’s attention goes with them. It makes sense. Perception is reality, as they say, and it can seem like things must be ‘better’ in Iraq now that Mosul is free.

But the absence of terrorists in cities like Mosul and Fallujah isn’t the same as the presence of something better.

It can seem like things are fine now, or at least manageable, but the reality on the ground is clear: the need is enormous. The good news is, when we look at Iraq or Syria, we don’t have to look at the whole, impossible problem of this refugee crisis all at once. We can focus on people before problems, the personal over the impersonal.

Honestly, if we tried to take in the entirety of Iraq or Syria’s problems, we’d probably go insane.

So instead we sit in tents or half-built buildings or hotel lobbies across the region, and we listen to women like Shayma, the heroic woman interviewed in the video above. We ask questions, and we obsessively try to understand the world around us by trying to understand real people, with real problems and real power to overcome those problems. Because that’s what it takes to unmake violence and remake places like Iraq and Syria.

To all of you who continue showing up for families going home to Mosul, or for families still living under ISIS rule in places like Raqqa or Telafaar: thank you. The only way to unmake the violence of these places is to stick around, continue working, and keep listening!

Onward. We’re with you.