Before I begin writing, I'll admit that when it comes to the current Syrian crisis, I have tons of questions and zero answers. I'm glad about that. Because, and with no disrespect intended toward anyone, every answer I've heard to date has sounded either ignorant or hypocritical.
The first question I have about the crisis is why pictures of dead women and children wrapped up in white blankets and tossed into mass graves are alarming enough that we now have to debate launching missiles. Missiles that every proponent of using them agrees will not be launched to solve the crisis, but to send a message that we as a country are displeased. Not displeased about slaughter itself, but about one particular method of slaughter. Chemical weapons.
None of the pictures out of Syria shocked or saddened me or moved my conscience anywhere near someplace it hasn't been moved to before. I've been equally disturbed by photos and stories of slain and abused children in this country. I've previously been there through the footage of the millions of children lost around the world - Every. Single. Day. - to starvation and AIDS. The pictures out of Syria were no more heinous to me than the pictures of children sold off as part of the world's thriving child sex trade operations, or of kids not older than my own slaving away in factories around the world to produce the goods we buy and sell in the name of our economy.
I'm told I shouldn't feel that way, though. Secretary of State John Kerry, before congress, said the following about the need for America to fire missiles into Syria: "But this is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter. Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence." He went on to say that, "This debate is about the world's red line, it's about humanity's red line. And it's a red line that anyone with a conscience ought to draw."
I'm left wondering how chemicals killing people achieved such a lofty ranking. Because in spite of the Secretary's recommendation, my conscience draws a line well before that.
If chemicals are indeed the red line, then I'm wondering, can it be inferred that we have no interest in preventing death by chemicals, but simply responding to those deaths. Iran long ago acquired chemical weapons and frequently threatens to use them to eradicate an entire nation. Yet the same folks who are now supporting launching missiles into Syria called anyone who suggested a need to do battle with Iran during the recent Presidential debates - warmongers. To be fair, many of those warmongers are now very hesitant to respond to the very deaths by chemical weapons they insisted were vital to prevent.
In addition, more than one credible source has suggested that Syria is now using chemical weapons obtained from Iraq - (How Did Syria Get Chemical Weapons). I don't need to go into the political and national opinions about chemical weapons in Iraq, and the relentless former President Bush bashing that has followed our activity there.
I'm also wondering, Mr. Secretary, how do you define "the world". Because at this point in time, almost the entirety of the world I know is not sharing your thoughts on where to place the red line. I'm not a hundred percent sure the world cares for lines, no matter what color they are.
I'm also wondering why the President has to go to congress for permission to act on a red line that has already been established. Shouldn't the consequences of crossing the red line have been agreed upon when we drew it. And if it was already drawn why is the Secretary now telling the world and me where it should be. Trust me, when one of our boys draws a red line on anything, a piece of paper, a wall, the sidewalk or the side of my truck, you can erase the line, but you can't move it.
I fully support the President working with congress to develop a plan of action, but here's where I struggle with it. These are the same folks who've been arguing for 5 years now about debt ceilings and budgets and health insurance with the kind of passion, thought processes and intellect that a class of first graders use to debate what game to play at recess. Let me also re-mention the fact that the Warmongers are suddenly looking for a good Pacifist mascot while the Pacifists are out shopping for a few hundred missiles that just 6 months ago they said we couldn't afford. Top all of this off with the fact that this debate over how consciences - yours, mine and the world's - should be applied to the chemical slaughter of innocent women and children, and it's possible threat to our national security, had to wait better than a week for those debating it to return from vacation.
Maybe the line is a little more pink than red.
I don't know the answer to Syria or any of the other countless, preventable tragedies that face millions across our globe each day. On a personal level, strive to love your neighbor in all you do is the best I can come up with. As for our country, I wish that conscience and a moral obligation to act or not act didn't look and smell so much like politics when those who will ultimately decide the answer talk about it. I wish I didn't feel like the final answer is going to sound both ignorant and hypocritical. I wish I didn't feel any of this, but I do.