Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"On the eve of the anniversary of that sad date..."

Evan Vucci/Pool/Getty Images

Last night I met a friend for dinner in Winter Park. 
It was shortly after 9 when I realized the President was addressing the nation on Syria. 
I grabbed the closest waiter and asked him to put on the news, (there were several televisions above the bar). 
For the next ten minutes or so, my friend and I read the closed captioning as it scrolled across the screen:

"However, over the last few days, we've seen some encouraging signs, in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin, the Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons..."

I was sitting at the edge of my seat, waiting to see if this meant we wouldn't be striking Syria: 

"I have therefore asked the leaders of congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin..." 

It was after reading "Putin" I felt a tap on my shoulder. 
It was the manager. 
He was holding a remote control and proceeded to tell me that he had to change the channel because the waiter wasn't aware of the restaurant's policy.
I sat there silent and confused.
The manager went on to say that their TV policy was to not put anything on that's controversial, anything that could potentially upset people and cause arguments. 
This isn't a political debate, it's the President of the United States addressing the nation on whether or not we're going to war with another country. 
I understand the polls show most Americans don't care about whats happening in Syria, but what saddens me is that as a society we have become so concerned with not upsetting anyone that we're ignoring reality. 
We're throwing a blanket over the truth because it "keeps the peace." 

On the eve of the anniversary of September 11, I was very disturbed by this encounter because we should know better.
We should want to know WHY our leaders are making their decisions, what we're fighting for, and who we're defending. 

I remember twelve years ago, walking around my neighborhood in Queens, and interviewing people with my purple tape recorder. 
I grew up in New York- and almost everyone knew someone who was killed, or survived the attacks on the World Trade Center. 
I asked my neighbors what they thought needed to be done after so many fellow New Yorkers were murdered by terrorists.  
I remember that's when I realized I wanted to be a news reporter.

Yesterday, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, sent a message to Obama, expressing his concern over the plans of the US army to strike Syria and the fate of Christians in the Middle East.

He mentions September 11, and the price of human sufferings and losses.

In my opinion, we shouldn't ignore the past and present because it's easier on the eyes and soul. 

We must listen to our neighbors, hear what world and religious leaders have to say, and when our president is addressing the nation, and all the news networks are broadcasting his speech, we should make every effort to watch.


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s appeal to US President Mr. Barack Obama regarding the situation in Syria

September 10, 2013

His Excellency Mr. Barack OBAMA

United States of America

Your Excellency, Dear Mr. President,
The tragic events in Syria have raised anxiety and caused pain in the Russian Orthodox Church. We receive information about the situation there not from the news reports but from living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.
Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centres. The war has become an everyday golgotha for millions of civilians.
We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria. Undoubtedly, it will bring ever greater sufferings to the Syrian people, first of all, to the civilian population. An external military intervention may result in the radical forces coming to power in Syria who will not be able and will not wish to ensure inter-confessional accord in the Syrian society.
Our special concern is for the fate of the Christian population of Syria, which in that case will come under the threat of total extermination or banishment. It has already happened in the regions of the country seized by militants. An attempt made by the armed groups of the Syrian opposition to seize the town of Ma’loula whose residents are predominantly Christians has become a new confirmation of our concerns. The militants keep shelling the town in which ancient Christian monasteries are located – the sites of special veneration by the faithful all over the world.
The Christian hierarchs of Aleppo, Metropolitans Paul and John Ibrahim, have been held captive by militants since April 22. Nothing is known about their fate despite of the fact that a number of religious figures appealed to the leaders of their states to help to release them.
I am deeply convinced that the countries which belong to the Christian civilization bear a special responsibility for the fate of Christians in the Middle East.
No doubt, the current Syrian crisis needs to be settled with the participation of the international community. In this regard, I consider it important to use the opportunities which have opened for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. These opportunities imply the international community’s control over the chemical weapons in Syria.
The Russian Orthodox Church knows the price of human sufferings and losses since in the 20th century our people survived two devastating world wars which claimed millions of lives and ruined many people’s lives. We also regard as our own pain the pain and losses the American people suffered in the terrible terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.
On the eve of the anniversary of that sad date, I appeal to you to lend your ear to the voices of religious leaders who unanimously oppose any military interference in the Syrian conflict and to make every effort for the soonest commencement of peace negotiations.
Yours faithfully,

Photo: (REUTERS/Sergei Gunyeev/Ria Novosti/Pool)

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