Time and again I hear friends say, “The situation in Syria is terrible. We have to do something. What if we had stood by and let Hitler take over Europe? It’s time to send in U.S. troops.” On the other hand, I also hear friends say, “The U.S. is not the world’s policeman. This is a civil war in Syria. We need to stay out of it.”
Are there only two choices? Are we stuck with the options of either military intervention or a refusal to be involved? What if we stood up and said, “We want to help people in this terrible situation in Syria. And we want to find creative ways to help that will stop the cycle of violence, not exacerbate it”?
This is exactly what a courageous few have been saying. Soulful leadership in this situation means having compassion for the victims of violence in Syria while at the same time finding a third way forward. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, for example, points to a third way, a way of nonviolent engagement.
Friends Committee on National Legislation, too, has articulated what diplomacy in this situation could look like. Furthermore, FCNL points out the great harm that a military attack could cause, exacerbating the conflict.
There are more than two choices; neither choice in the public debate is acceptable. We need a third way that shows care for the victims while at the same time breaking the cycle of violence. We must learn to not add fuel to the fire of violence but instead to douse its flames.
What will you do to explore an alternate approach? How will you call others to a third way?