This evening at sundown, in cities all around the world, people gathered in remembrance of the three-year anniversary of the Syria conflict. I attended the vigil in London’s Trafalgar Square, where we had a light show, children’s voices on the loudspeaker, music, and a short talk.
Several times during the one-hour event, they played a recording of a Syrian girl saying, “Please stop the killing. Think about the people, think about the children, the women.”
Then the speaker urged us to do the same, issuing a call for us all to get out our phones and tweet our solidarity and support for the Syrian people with the hashtag #WithSyria.
Some activists worked the crowd, encouraging us to attend a rally on Saturday the 15th, the actual third anniversary of the conflict.
I had a host of emotions as I stood there and watched, and listened, to the uniquely multisensory presentation, complete with children carrying balloons and recordings of children singing, images of words up against the monument while listening to a speaker, and lanterns.
My first reaction, I think, was to the girl’s plea. She asks that we stop the killing. Who can and should stop the killing? How can anyone in London effectively stop the killing? History has shown that, in complex conflicts like Syria’s, the only way to stop the killing is to kill everyone who is killing, effectively then continuing the killing. I want the killing to stop, but what can we in Trafalgar Square do, really?
We were told to tweet it. By tweeting we can stop a war? Oh if only it were so. Tweeting can create a powerful voice, raise awareness, give us an avenue for self-expression. But I fear it won’t actually produce radical change. It’s not nothing, because I know that our elected leaders pay attention to what is said in the twittersphere, but it’s not much either.
Most of all, though, I felt confused. I have journeyed alongside dear friends who lost everything, or almost everything, in this war. I have laughed and grieved with people I care very much about. How do those experiences, how do those real human lives and emotions, find their expression in this Central London artistic event? I’m not saying it doesn’t, I just didn’t see it.
But as I left, I walked away with a conviction. Who can stop the killing? God. Who can that girl plead to, asking for an end to the killing and for hope to come to the precious children and their mothers? God? We can’t pray to twitter, but we can pray to God.
Please #pray for Syria.