‘When is doing nothing no longer an option?’ This was the question asked by Journalist Robin Lustig in The Guardian Weekly (p.18) last week on the situation in Syria and whether or not we need to act with further violence, and what else that action might look like.
Robin Lustig goes on to ask, ‘at what point do we change our minds? History suggests, it is often when we are taken by surprise and we are forced to confront our blindness and prejudice to see an issue freshly. The debate about taking military action or not, or some other kind of action in Syria has finally internalised all the lessons of Iraq for Australia, Britain and the USA. However, ‘for Syria, poor bleeding Syria, the past and present are awful’. And its future remains unwritten.
I am reminded of Jewish philosopher and writer, Hannah Arrendt in her analysis of the Nazis’ Final Solution for the Jews, when she wrote (1963) about the trial of Adolf Eichmann (Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil). She said, ‘saying nothing and doing nothing are not an option’ as good people lose their moral compass. Speaking and acting as individuals is a moral obligation; we turn away at our peril, individually and as a society. Picking and choosing who our ‘neighbours’ are to suit our circumstances is fraught with hypocrisy and the Bible reminds us unequivocally we will reap a bitter harvest with what we sew. We now see this with Afghanistan, Iraq and our confused response to ‘poor bleeding Syria’.
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO