My step-father was Syrian. As a teenager, that meant being subjected to not one but TWO different Easter celebrations … sitting around tables full of kibbeh and tabouleh and loud relatives I never wanted. The worst thing I knew about Syria was that I didn’t like its food or the inconvenience of its religious holidays. And I didn’t really like my step-father all that much, either. But still – after all these years – if you mention Syria, he’s the first thing I think of.
Syrian refugees, gun laws, terrorists – it’s all getting lumped together like one big panicking wound that none of us knows how to heal. I have a Master’s in International Communication. I spent years of my life chasing the globe, looking for a place to be needed. I studied post-conflict journalism. I went to Bosnia trying to invent a purpose for myself because I felt like “there” was the only place that needed fixing. Little did I realize the problems are all right here. They’re inside me. They’re inside all of us.
Love is the only way out of this. Not the way my mother loved my step-father, which made me gag at the time. But the kind of desperate love that you bleed from your ears because you know it’s the only hope we’ve got left.
Love is our only work here. It doesn’t matter how much you know about ISIS or Congo or Syria or gun reform. And it doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on. If you aren’t loving, you aren’t helping. That’s all there is to it. It is the hardest work, and the only work that matters. This is a message for myself as much as anyone. I’m going through a divorce. I know firsthand that it’s hard to come from a loving place when you’re scared and sad and angry. And still, I can’t say it enough. Love, love, love, love, love. Love until it hurts and then keep loving. It’s the only way to let the light in. It’s the only way the good can win.