Turmoil in the Middle East: Thoughts from a Langham Scholar in Lebanon

How should I respond to my seven year old daughter? She is terrified with the news and images of destruction of nearby bridges we travelled over just a few hours ago and the demolishing and burning of our only airport she ran through just a few weeks ago. What should I say to her when a house and eleven people in it were all killed in one air strike? What should I say to her when a two year old child was literally cut in two in an air strike?

|PIC1|I was overwhelmingly silent! But I had to say something to my anxious daughter. I told her not to worry much and that the issue should be resolved in a matter of days. As I talked to her I was thinking of the upcoming meeting of UN Security Council.

So, I was saddened and disappointed when the Council took no stand. I am not much interested in politics, but I am perplexed for the silence of the human conscience.

Yet, I still do hope that the human conscience will be awakened someday. I am encouraged with the ability of the worldwide Christian church to speak about peace and to run seminars on conflict resolution, but disappointed with its ineffectiveness to work for a real and lasting peace, particularly in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

At the same time I am encouraged to know that many Christian sisters and brothers are concerned for our situation in Lebanon. They are praying and encouraging us, in spite of their helplessness to influence their governments to respond to our needs right now.

|TOP|We live in West Beqaa area and for the last sixteen years we have been involved in peace and tolerance education as we work with hundreds of students and families who belong to various religious backgrounds. Now we experience again the meaning of hatred and war.

As I write these words I hear Israeli jet fighters bombings a nearby bridge and several roads; a few minutes later I hear that these attacks killed several civilians who happened to be walking by that road. We are almost isolated where we live, as most roads to other cities and towns are destroyed. Our fear is that in just a few days, food, fuel and other similar needs will be scarce as the situation worsens.

What should I say to my daughter? “My daughter let us keep praying not just for peace, but for the awakening of the human conscience.” Would you please join me in such a prayer?

Revd. Dr. Riad Kassis
Fellowship of Langham Scholars, Lebanon

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