Pause for Thought

So accustomed have I become to Bro Duncan PBGV’s occasional kidnapping of the keyboard, I nearly wrote ‘Paws for Thought’ and maybe there is greater wisdom in that than I thought. I will explain anon, but first, a very simple summary of some important events here in Britain during the past few days.

Earlier this week Parliament voted against military intervention in Syria in principle and David Cameron, very properly and honourably, said that meant that Britain would not now be party to any military intervention there in the future. Those picking over the decision have been drawing all kinds of conclusions from it. The party political ramifications, although important to us here in Britain, are a distraction from what is ostensibly our principal concern: the suffering of the people of Syria. The effect on the ‘special relationship’ between the U.K. and the U.S.A. also strikes me as being secondary. (I had the impression that President Obama was rather lukewarm about it anyway.) But Parliament’s decision does mean that other countries have paused in their rush to decide about military intervention, and that pause may be exactly what is needed to allow the voices of the Syrian people themselves to be heard. The ugliness and brutality of the Assad regime is not in doubt; but his opponents are not exactly angels of light, either; nor is the volatility of the Middle East as a whole in question. Why the fifteenth use (allegedly) of chemical weapons in Syria should be the point at which outside military intervention is considered appropriate is still not clear to me. We know that at least 100,000 people have been killed and that 1,000,000 Syrian children are now refugees. Each one is an individual, with a history, a personality, a face. Each one is a child of God.

It is at that point that Bro Duncan’s ‘paws for thought’ resonates with me. Dogs are noble in their ability to get on with even the nastiest human beings. They forgive readily or, if they do not forgive, they do not allow their negative feelings to destroy the opportunities of the moment. By and large, they are not too bothered about status or position, in the domestic context at least. They are patient, ‘dogged’ in the popular sense. Dogs would make very good diplomats, and I think we need some doggy diplomatic qualities as never before.. Christians in Syria have appealed for renewed dialogue rather than missile strikes, and that is something we in the West ought to pay more heed to. We have a tendency to look at problems from the outside in, and confuse activity with transformation. Moral indignation is all very well, but our duty is to change what is wrong. The fact that the U.K. will not be intervening militarily does not mean that we have any less of a responsibility to work for peace. The humanitarian catastrophe that is Syria is on the conscience of us all. The danger is  that, now that military strikes have been ruled out, we will fold our arms and do nothing. Shame on us if so!

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