If one decides to ride by bus in Syria, one has to put their name on a list of passengers. Even the communists did not come up with that. It may happen that a bus will have to stop for a control during which Islamist extremists read the list of passengers and pass judgment. Christians face no trial, they are killed simply because they are Christians. All it takes is one shot.
One might say - why? How is it possible? After all, in Poland especially, this brings to mind Katyn. Religious war? Ethnic cleansing? Yes, and many other causes for eliminating from public life those people who, for one reason or another, might be inconvenient and undesirable.
A civil war has broken out in Syria. A war that is religious and ethnic. Or maybe, or even especially, it is a war for political and economic influence of countries for which Syria constitutes an important point of reference for strategic and political reasons. Regardless, the element of religious identity plays a significant role in this dispute. The Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, are deeply interested in this conflict. On the other hand, similarly large interest exists on Israel's side. Both sides of the conflict are supported by world superpowers, on one side - Russia and China, on the other - the United States of America, as the highest floor of interests. Not Syrian, of course, but their own.
The tragedy in Syria is the pang of mankind's conscience. A country that over the centuries was able to maintain respect and create dignified living conditions for people of various religions, various faiths. A country that retained within its trove of history such diversity of religious and ethnic identities, rooted far and deep over the distant centuries. It seems that this country is falling prey to religious extremists who want to disrupt the world-admired balance and tolerance. They are even striving to completely change the established order.
The civil war in Syria is a tragedy, not just because of the significant casualties in people, economy and cultural achievements, but first and foremost due to the attempts at destroying the trace elements of the important and beautiful core of Christian culture in the Middle East that Syria is. It is there that the three monotheistic religions have their roots: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Syria must be rescued from the jaws of war, Syria must be saved. But how to do this?
The tragedy that the Syrian nation is experiencing, also including the Christians that live there, is one that moves hearts, mobilizes to prayer, but also demands action. In other words, considering the current stage of war, it means providing food, medicine, clothes and a modicum sense of security to refugees. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Catholic organization Caritas Poland have been working together with Caritas Jordan for two years now to bring help to refugees, especially children, realizing the educational and rehabilitation project in Jordan - in a few locales near the Syrian border (Mafraq, Zarqa, Ibrid, Madaba, Amman and Karak), while also providing financial support.
Since until now it was possible to live in relative peace in Syria for so long - in a religiously and ethnically platonic country, then why would it be impossible to do so today? War won't change anything, whereas much can be achieved by leading an honest, open and patient dialog. The situation in Syria, and pretty much in the entire Middle East, creates serious problems in many fields of life and overcoming them requires honest and open dialog, also interreligious one, because it is religion, referring to final truths, that allows one to notice human dignity in oneself and to respect it in another person. Respect for the fellow man is a necessary condition for peace between people and between countries. One cannot achieve peace between nations if there is none between religions - and that can be achieved only through dialog. Peace is an ethnic problem, not just a matter of politics and negotiations.
Is dialog enough to ensure safety, dignified living conditions, peace and justice? Probably not! But it is a necessary condition towards achieving these basic values.
The civil war in Syria, next to many other political and economic goals, wants to purge Syria of Christianity with the hands of Islamist extremists. Let the Syrians decide what Syria should be about - only they have the right to make that decision and not any external force. After centuries-long experiences, gained through mutual coexistence of various religions, faiths and ethnic groups - they will be able to do it better than outside experts that only care about their own interests.
Jews, Christians and Muslims who praise the one God, were able to live with each other in peace, not violating their religious identity. History gives us many examples of such coexistence that, at least in Lebanon, allowed for their peaceful cohabitation and permeation of these three great civilizations - and over the centuries. For that, mutual respect and tolerance is necessary.
If this method was successful in the past, then it will be just as successful today.
Author: Bp. Tadeusz Pieronek / pr-controlled.com ©
Illustration: Witches' Sabbath by Goya