I was just looking through my twitter feed and learned about the bombing in Benghazi today. To be specific, a hospital in Benghazi. At least 2 children dead, they’re saying.
But it’s hard for me to react the way such news deserves, because just two days ago, two car bombs went off in Reyhanli, Southern Turkey. I know people just a few short miles from there. I talked to one of my friends who lives nearby today and I said, “I thank God it didn’t hit your city.” And she said, “Who cares? People died!” And she’s right. But I’m still glad it wasn’t her or her family…
But even that fails to even compare with the news I saw today: the death toll in Syria has now surpassed 80,000. The refugee figures are so high I’ve lost count, but it’s safe to guess that close to 1 out of 3 Syrians have fled their homes. That figure includes almost all of my friends. I praise God that the 82,000 deaths does not include any of my friends, but I tremble to think how close the death has come to their doorstep.
And I stop to wonder, Who are these people? Who would do this!
None of my friends thirst for blood; all my friends are doing everything they can to survive, and are sacrificing deeply to help others to survive.
I don’t want to know these people. I’m glad my friends are not among them.
But I stare at the news like a deer stares into the headlights of an ongoing car. Shocked, scared and completely unsure of what to do. How can someone so lightly take the life of another? What kind of a human being picks up a weapon and points it at a fellow human being? Where is the soul of the person who loads a car full of explosives and walks away to watch the ensuing carnage?
Then I walk into my office, where we are all working as hard as we can to try and somehow minimise the human suffering that is the inevitable fall-out of all this violence, and we play internal politics, gossip about each other, complain about our job. We may not cause any physical harm to each other, but neither do we provide a respite from the pain that is outside. Maybe that’s on purpose: We’d rather feel a bit of pain than feel guilty that we’re safe and happy while the people we serve are suffering so.
But at the end of the day, I see the tweets about fashion news, celebrity gossip, new artwork on display, and I want to escape to that world. I want to pretend the suffering doesn’t exist. I don’t want to find out who those people are. Because if I ever come face to face with one of them, what can I possibly say? If a Syrian fighter, regardless of which side he took, were to talk into my living room right now, what could I say? If the Benghazi or Reyhanli bomber were to sit down in the chair across from me, what could I possibly say?
Is there anything, anything at all, that s/he could say that would convince me that s/he is actually a human being?