Syria: Don’t Settle for a Simple Narrative

The stories out of Syria this week are heartbreaking. Every image of an injured, dead, or traumatized child feels like a kick to the gut.

When innocents suffer, it’s natural to respond with outrage, to point fingers and demand justice. And we should demand justice.

But that’s not easy in the Syrian crisis because the good guy/bad guy narrative doesn’t work here.

When we read about Syria in the news, it’s important to understand that the situation is way more complicated than it sounds—and for most of us, it sounds pretty complicated. We must not boil it down to a simple narrative.

It’s not as clear-cut as “evil government attacks noble rebels,” or, “noble government responds to evil terrorists.”

The Syrian government has been accused of numerous human rights violations—including the use of chemical weapons against its own people and strategically bombing hospitals and medical clinics in order to raise death tolls and squeeze rebels out.

The “rebels” are opposed to this kind of oppression, but they’ve been accused of tactics that are equally oppressive and violent. Rebel forces include a huge variety of anti-government groups—from pro-democracy forces to Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and everything in between.

Both sides have caused unnecessary civilian suffering and death. Both sides have used barbaric tactics.

The only part of this situation that is black and white is this: innocent children and civilians are paying the steepest price for this conflict. They are caught up in a war that just happened to land in their backyard, and they need help.

Syria is facing a dire situation right now—there’s no way around it. But despite the desperation, we must not give up hope.

We must keep showing up for the Syrian people. For those injured in Tuesday’s tragic chemical attack—and for those who face the difficult task of moving forward. For displaced people from all across Syria, trying to make ends meet until they can go home. For families rebuilding their homes in Aleppo. For those trapped as human shields in ISIS-held Raqqa.

Don’t settle for the simple narrative… but don’t be paralyzed by the lack of one, either. You don’t have to fully comprehend the Syrian conflict (who does?) in order to show up. You don’t have to understand what each side is trying to achieve in order to recognize that violence unmakes the world—and that we are called to unmake violence with our preemptive love.

Thank you for loving people who are caught in a conflict that seems to be fueled by hate. Thank you for choosing to show up and love anyway.

Meet the needs of innocent children and civilians who are caught in Syria’s war.