By Eman Sahloul (PERSPECTIVES EDITOR) & Sarah Jaber (Photography Editor)
Three red stars with green and black stripes above and below them-the Syrian flag. Before this week, many never knew it even belonged to this country. Before this year, before this revolution, many never knew this country existed. Now however, as the situation in Syria escalates, as more and more people are killed, and as more and more people fearlessly protest, this simple flag stands resolute as something so much more than a piece of cloth.
Living in America, freedom is something we are proud of. We are angered when our freedom to speak is infringed and we protest with fervor at the thought of a bill like SOPA being passed that may limit our rights of expression.
Pause for a second. Imagine a more drastic robbery of freedom. Imagine your alarm being gun shots through your roof. Imagine waking up to no electricity, no food, no water, and no mother.
Bombs have been indiscriminately dropped on Syria’s third largest city, Homs, this week, where my (Sahloul) family lives.
Doctors do not have the proper instruments to help those injured; they don’t even have oxygen. The water pipes have been cut and those who have not been hit are silently starving in their houses.
Such a massacre mirrors the instance in 1982 in Syria’s city, Hama, where my (Jaber) family lives; 40,000 people were killed.
This is the situation in Syria as we speak. They are not merely fighting for the opportunity to express themselves; they are fighting for their right to live. Many Syrians are prisoners in their hopes. Any dream they have to ever thrive and prosper from the work that they achieve is constantly stolen from them by the government. The sweat of their labor has transformed to tears of sorrow or blood from injury.
As Syrian Americans, we see this issue in many lights. But it is not because we are Syrians that our hearts are bound to this cause. It is not that we are Muslim, or Arab, or American. It is because we are simply humans.
We are blessed to be living in a country where WE can provide a voice to the unheard and a truth behind oppression. It is our responsibility and the responsibility of humanity to stand up against subjugation. Living in our sheltered homes allows us to easily get desensitized. Our countless blessings should not give us the right to look past injustices occurring in our world on a daily basis.
This should be OUR personal struggle. We must educate ourselves before anything else. It’s hard to have empathy, to donate money, or to shed tears over something one does not understand. So when you see that link on your friend’s wall, read it. When you hear someone talking about Syria or any country struggling, ask. With knowledge of a situation, you will find participation and activism to be natural consequences.
Be conscious of events promoting this cause in and out of Benedictine. Participate. Organize. Speak. There are literally hundreds of events happening every single week, from Flash Mobs, to protests, to petitions, to fundraising drives. In two weeks, we’ll be hosting a flash mob for Syria on campus; that’s just one extremely easy opportunity to express your solidarity. Look out for a Facebook invitation or a follow-up article and join us!
Taking a stand will eventually not require conscious effort. You will feel blessed with the meal that you eat, the clothes that you wear, the air that you breathe and the freedom that you have.