I’ve been trying to understand what’s happening in Syria and why it began. If you’re curious about this, too, here is the story in a very brief nutshell; it’s a sad, twisted, and cautionary tale of graffiti by children, an ego-maniacal President, and the danger of silently normalizing hideous behavior.
5 years ago Syrian civilians decided to peacefully protest after 15 schoolchildren were arrested – and reportedly tortured – for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. Government forces opened fired on the protesters killing 4 people. Then they open fired on the mourners at the funerals of those 4 people the following day killing 1 more person.
The people then rose up to meet violence with violence. About 3 years later an organization calling itself IS for Islamic State got involved. Taking advantage of the chaos and desperation, IS escalated the matter even further by retaliating against anyone who didn’t hold IS’s extreme religious views. Then Russia uses its muscle to support the Syrian government, the US and UK make some attempts to support the rebels, some countries slowly crack open the door to welcome Syrian refugees, and the vast majority of the rest of the world sits on its hands, waits, and watches as hundreds of thousands of innocent people are murdered without cause or reason.
Here we are 5 years later and some estimates state that roughly 500,000 people have been killed. All because Syria’s government felt threatened by the graffiti of children and the calls of its people for greater freedom of expression and democracy. It defies reason and any semblance of sanity. This is the damage that one man can cause. This is what the ego, when left unchecked, can do to an entire nation of people. Let that sink in.