So What Can the Average Citizen Do?

Father Nassar gives this advice:

1. Remind our politicians that dialogue is always better than guns: “Bullets are never the right language.”

2. Prayer and faith -- when people come together with God in wisdom, love and forgiveness, we can peacefully solve our conflicts. “Look at the end of Apartheid in South Africa,” he said. There was violence leading up to the abolishment of Apartheid, but it was Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk’s willingness to work together for a peaceful transition that finally allowed the first free multi-racial elections to be held and formally ended these segregationist laws.

3. Remember that it’s okay to be different. The problem comes when we try to “cancel” someone else or force him or her to accept our beliefs or our position.

4. Don’t forget that every country and every person is precious in the eyes of God.

We think that what is happening in Syria couldn’t happen here. But we are already seeing the groundswell of dissatisfaction and intolerance for others who don’t believe as we do. Couple that with a fragile economy and we ourselves are sitting on a powder keg. Thankfully, we can use the power of the polls to change our leadership when we aren’t satisfied with their performance. But we are going to have to use the powers of both understanding and introspection to change our attitudes towards others.

Let us take a lesson from what is happening in other countries and be a positive force for peace and acceptance -- starting with our own lives, our own relationships and within our own communities. We should be a leader in peaceful change rather than resorting to the negativity and aggression that others are using to achieve their goals. America was founded by people fleeing oppression -- let us not become the oppressors ourselves.

There is an excellent article from February 1993 by Robert D. Kaplan published in Atlantic Monthly that gives more detail on the historical events in Syria and a commentary on its future that certainly seems to be coming true today. Read Syria: Identity Crisis for a deeper look into the factors that have contributed to the situation in Syria.

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, speaker, artist, Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader whose articles are published by and The Fish family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on Life, Relationships and Family on her website, And she is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice -- 5 Steps to Peace. Join her on Twitter and Facebook for daily devotions. She is also available for speaking engagements. Call or email for details and visit her Speaker's Page for references and bio.

Publication date: August 8, 2012