5. The outcome of this conflict is uncertain and less than ideal on either side.

• The current regime is corrupt and guilty of torture, oppression, killing, etc. This has caused both the desire and the need, for change.

• However, the opposition is fragmented, divided, and doesn’t have a clear political agenda or solid leadership that the people can embrace as representing them. (The U.S. State Department and the Pentagon are already in talks about how to stabilize the region when President Assad’s regime is overthrown.)

6. The Western world is now backing the liberation forces, but we shouldn’t forget that we once backed Assad, Mubarak, Khadafi, Ben Ali and other totalitarian leaderships. Our relationship with the Middle East is precarious and we need to maintain our ties there for economic, political and security reasons.

7. The Syrian conflict is a result of the dissatisfaction of its citizens and represents justifiable and legitimate requests. The citizens of Syria are influenced by:

• the corruption of the current regime

• a lack of freedom and liberty

• a lack of civil rights

• a lack of political life and activities

• the successful overthrow of other regimes in surrounding countries.

8. The climate of dissatisfaction in Syria is happening all around the world on many different levels.

For the United States, we need look no further than our own country to see similar, even frightening trends occurring:

1. Father Nassar told me that ego is destroying Syria. The regime is willing to burn down the country rather than give up their power. The opposition forces are fighting so hard to oust them that they haven’t tackled the question of how they will govern. Individuals are already jockeying for positions of power in the new government even though they don’t yet know what that will look like. Neither side is asking the most important question: “What is best for Syria and how do we implement that?”

Aren’t we currently having a national discussion about the role ego plays in Washington, Wall Street and Main Street? Don’t we complain that the Democrats and Republicans are more concerned about their political agendas than they are about what is best for the nation and the people they serve?

2. The demonstrations first began peaceable in Syria and were then met with violence. The citizens of Syria were promised reforms but they didn’t get them. This asking for change then turned to asking for a change in regime.

The presidential election in 2008 was won because of a promise of hope and change. After almost four years without positive changes, a large number of people are now asking for a change in the White House. We are pitting the Occupy movement against the Tea Party movement and this has resulted in incidents of violence in our own country.

3. Father Nassar believes that what is missing in Syria is dialogue -- dialogue between the regime and the protestors and dialogue between Syria and the world leadership at large. World leaders met in June to discuss the situation, but did not include representatives from Syria at the table. Nassar is calling for an international roundtable discussion that includes Syria.

Conflicts and differences of opinion in the United States are becoming increasingly more aggressive and personal. We saw this just recently in the response to Dan Cathy’s comments that Chick-fil-A supports traditional marriage. This didn’t spark a healthy discussion and dialogue -- it sparked an outrage on both sides. People are feeling oppressed and are reacting negatively. They feel that they are either losing their civil rights, or haven’t been granted them in the first place.

This intolerance and hypersensitivity lay the foundation for more aggressive actions -- even violence. And violence simply breeds more violence. Father Nassar warns us that the environment of violence is dangerous for another reason -- it encourages the popularity of Islamic fundamentalists. When people are fed up and desperate, they will turn to anything to stop it -- even violence. And the fundamentalists and militants are in the best position to exploit the situation. Al Qaeda has already joined the liberation forces, and a recent New York Times article quoted an al Qaeda operative: “Our big hope is to form a Syrian-Iraqi Islamic state for all Muslims, and then announce our war against Iran and Israel, and free Palestine.” Nassar cautions us, “Every day the bloodshed continues -- we are further jeopardizing world peace and safety.”