We are a bunch of curious people, that’s for sure. We are that small minority, minuscule perhaps, who follow foreign policy and world events in great detail, day-in and day-out, with passion.
Where does that interest in other countries and people who live in foreign lands come from? A family relation or family origin, perhaps. Maybe we knew or know someone from a foreign country.
For some reason, whatever it might be, we care. We care about those people in foreign countries who we may not even know. Why?
Something must have happened in the neural circuits of our brains, or in the spiritual circuits of our souls. Maybe we took some religious or moral belief seriously, all too seriously, so that it opened up our hearts to what happened to others, or what was done to them, in these far-off places. Somehow, our defenses against feeling their pain and horror became breached.
This seems to be true for many of us. For whatever reason, we have opened ourselves up to feel the pain and suffering of the world. Perhaps somewhere in our brief journey through this life we saw evil, or were touched by evil–real evil.
We are that very curious group of people who care, at an emotional, spiritual and moral level, about the evil that is done to others in this world, through torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity, for example.
A Russian, Fyodor Dostoevsky, once wrote,
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness …
—Crime and Punishment
Maybe he was right. But one need not be a great woman or a great man to be open to the pain of others in far-away lands. Nor need the feeling of sadness become dominant in one’s thinking and behavior.
For us, this curious bunch of people who follow world events, with passion and empathy, with “Mitgefühl or “Mitleid”, as a German might say, this curious group of people who care about others for reasons “de l’humanité”, as a Frenchman might say, or “por la humanidad” as a Spaniard might say, what happens in Syria matters.
We care. We care about the wanton commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, about the murder with chemical weapons by al-Assad of 1400 human beings in Ghouta, on August 21, 2013.
But in America, our leaders do not care, nor apparently do our countrymen, or enough of them. Not the way we do. Maybe nothing happened in the neural circuits of their brains, or in the spiritual circuits of their souls, like it did to us. Maybe they never had a genuine friend from an Arab-speaking country, an Arab-speaking friend. Maybe they can’t really see Syrian Arabs as human beings like us, the way we do.
All I know is that humanity has come to a terrible place, when leaders and peoples will not do what is required to halt the commission of evil on a massive scale.
Or even consider revoking most-favored-nation treatment for Russia, who stands strong in defense of, and in complicity with, the mass murderer and his crimes.
The Trenchant Observer