This morning I was thinking about how we are spoon fed stories via social media, the new source of all that is knowable and provider of guidance. The assumption is that it must be true, thereby displacing the Bible in Western society as a guide to what is right. The power of social media and forced storytelling, in my opinion, started back on 9/11/01 and it hasn't let up. Fast-forwarding to 2011, Syria, and its terrible civil war, a
I must admit I didn't know much about Syria or it's society. All I knew was that suddenly Al Qaeda was pushed off to the side of the terrorist map and ISIS made it front and center. Suddenly Iraq and Syria (close behind) were crumbling. Iraq, that country where so many of our people were killed, maimed, or came home with invisible damage. Iraq, the country that wasn't the source of 9/11 but seemed to be the holder of weapons of mass destruction. To this day, I have no idea if that claim is true or not. It's hard to know what is true anymore. All I do know is that Bush sent us in, Obama kept us there and THEN telegraphed our withdrawal years later. Long before it was actually there, the enemies of Iraq knew there would be a vacuum to be filled and they filled it.
In no time at all ISIS was at the front of everyone's awareness, Al- Qaeda was still there but, like a new, shiny copper penny, ISIS glowed with a fire, a heat that was undeniable. After all, they were destroying ancient history, documents, culture, and, they were beheading anyone who was non-compliant. They were throwing people who were sexually "other" from rooftops, hanging Christians, raping and brutalizing women, and killing innocent children
During this time, I heard an interview with a Flemish priest, Fr. Daniel Maes. His words made me think about what we really know of what is unequivocally true. His eyewitness testimony to the situation in Syria provided me with an opportunity to clearly see the situation. He said,
“I have Iraqi friends who all agree that though life was not ideal under Saddam Hussein, their society was still measurably stable amongst Muslims, Christians, and Jews of the country. I can't speak to other cultural minorities (like the Kurds) but overall, there was cooperation and a fair amount of peaceful coexistence. With the war, the breakdown of their social structures, and the vacuum left by our departure, ISIS saw fertile ground for setting up its caliphate”.
Like Fr. Daniel and his observations, we find a similar story of a co-existing society disrupted by the incursion of out-of-country "Muslims" who were there for one intent, to destabilize the government of President Assad. And how did they get there? Who set them up? Why were they really there? Fr. Daniel made a legitimate point when he spoke of the acquisition of resources, in this case, oil.
When I watched Morgan Freeman's program, The Story of God, one of the featured individuals was a man called Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the current spiritual leader of the Lakota Nation. When he said, "Mother Earth is a source of life, not a resource", I immediately was reminded of the observations of Fr. Daniel Maes. I don't pretend to know what is the reality of what is going on, but when I see that blood is being shed in the name of power, I have to step back and ask what is really happening and who is making it happen?.
From Hussein, to Assad, to Maes, to Looking Horse, I see a connection, a thread that all comes down to power and exploitation, actions that at very apparent in our world today. It really doesn't matter where we are on Earth. If someone or some country has something that another person or country wants, a way will be found to acquire it. I think that acquisition of resources has everything to do with it. Oil maintains our way of life and whether it is in the Middle East, or in the case of Looking Horse, a pipeline across Lakota land and beneath the Missouri River, his words, the words of Maes, or words like them can't be ignored. To do so is to set a place at the table of our own self-destruction.