Doing Something

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the crushing shame and terror I feel when I think about Syria. All these years I’ve paid no attention to the things going on there, and now I feel such complete inadequacy in the face of such incomprehensible evil, which doesn’t even end in Syria, but happens everywhere.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you how this need to do something is killing me. It makes me feel so stupid to just sit and type at my keyboard when I know that there are children killed and abused all over the world at this very moment. What’s the use of knowing, when I do nothing? Maybe I feel the need to do something, because by doing something I could appease my conscience. People sign all kinds of Facebook petitions for this purpose. I could tell myself that I have at least tried, and not just conveniently forgotten about how evil the world is.

Yesterday I read an article, which blamed the whole crisis in Syria on the West’s sanctimonious need “to do something.” The article states that if the West had left the precarious Middle Eastern balance in peace, Isis would never have been capable of developing to its current force, and all this humane suffering might have been avoided. The West tried to destroy a small evil but the evil wasn’t squashed and came back bigger and badder still.

When we feel this need to act, to intervene, maybe we’re remembering the recent past with the Nazis, when the common cry after all the bodies had been counted was: “Why didn’t you do something?” What can you say to that? I didn’t know what to do? I was too scared, since I’m just an ordinary person? I didn’t have the means or the ability? I didn’t know? During the Nazi regimen many people had the chance to hide behind a lack of knowledge. Maybe they really didn’t know, but during the era of the Internet, few people could claim such ignorance. Not wanting to see is not the same as not knowing.

Is it stupid to intervene and try to do something? I think we have a moral obligation to try and help innocent people who are being destroyed and made to survive in inhumane circumstances. But maybe we just need to remember that there is the respectful way, and the other way. Maybe we should ask these people: “How can we help to make this situation better?” instead of just barging in and “doing something.”

So if we were having coffee right now, I’d probably have infected you with this weltschmerz by now and you would waving at the waitress to please come and bring the check, please. And I know that people don’t want to be reminded, and I don’t want to be reminded, but I can’t help but feel this pain whenever I think about those poor people who must be wondering “Why doesn’t anyone do anything?”

Here’s the original article I was referencing:

9 thoughts on “Doing Something

  1. I think that, knowing what we know, it’s increasingly difficult to look the other way when we see these instances of mass violence, genocide and injustice. ESPECIALLY with social media. I don’t think that I can ever sit by and not get involved. Even if my involvement is saying HEY — DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS!?!! Until I can do more. What I’m increasingly worried about is being desensitized to these issues or having SO MANY to focus on that we pick up one cause to drop it three days later for another.

    You’re right though. We should be asking people how we can help. But we should also work on just offering help when people are searching for it. Apparently two states in the US have already said that they will deny Syrian refugees until “further background checks” which is one of the most offensive things I’ve heard so far today. Hopefully the international world sees this as an opportunity to help people who are simply looking for a safer place to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like there are no good answers, and that’s depressing. I’ve been having trouble shaking that feeling for the past few days. But yeah, I agree that we can’t just sit on our backsides and not help.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent writing, from the hip on a horrible subject that’s not going to just go away. I sincerely appreciate other’s opinions and thoughts. I suppose as long as we point fingers at somebody, blame somebody, some might feel a little better. Personally, I do not. I cannot imagine how this is going to get better without getting worse. Still, I too want to know how I can help.


    1. You’re so right, the blame game does no good to anyone. It’s difficult when the world is a global place and we still think like villagers who’d gladly extend a helping hand to those in need. Actually doing it is not that easy.


  3. I think we’re all inherently good deep down inside. What we go through in life may shape our personalities, but I think the need to help is ingrained in all of us if we listen to our inner voices. I used to get so upset and overwhelmed when I’d see commercials about children overseas who were starving, etc., to the point where I’d get all teary ’cause I couldn’t help. But then someone asked Mother Teresa how she helped so many children and she said “one child at a time.”

    We started sponsoring a little girl through Compassion International. Did a lot of research and found this organization spent your money on the children and their families. Over the next few years we sponsored Gladys, Belinda, and Leonardo, all from Brazil. I finally felt like I was doing SOMETHING. And because we did that, our hearts were opened and we were encouraged to step out in faith and actually adopt a child from overseas. Our daughter Stefanie Kavitha came to us from India when she was seven. She’s 33 now with four beautiful kiddos and a great husband. (I told her story in Choosing Adoption on my blog.) It’s amazing what can happen when you start with one child. No matter where that child is. Sponsorship is a wonderful way to help!


    1. Well, you really did do something. It’s always so wonderful to see people who don’t just talk about helping, but actually go ahead and do it. I love that idea about helping one child at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely understand the need to do something. I also think that other article makes a valid point, but as we cannot change the past but only learn from it, it is somewhat moot. Next time we feel like we need to do something, we should look at the past times we did something in the Middle East. But meanwhile, those of us who are not politicians, can do something to make the consequences of a past we cannot change better. I just started helping out with the medical care of refugees here in Germany, and now I finally feel like I am doing my part.


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