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A view of Morro Bay from Los Osos, California, USA

I often think about (and pray for) the people suffering in Syria in the confluence of a brutal regime and rebel forces that have various allegiances and motives. The flood of refugees out of Syria grows with each day while the world waits. Thousands of them are children.

I wrote the following piece five years ago, long before Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, was a household name in the United States (at least for those of us who follow international news). Yet it speaks to me again today.

From a Christian perspective (and I dare say, from the perspective of most religious traditions), this human community in which we live is interconnected in such a way that we feel the suffering of innocents whether we consciously acknowledge the causes or understand the forces at work, many of which are evil.

Here is a poem illuminating how our consciences are stirred by the troubled world in which we live. I am not able to ignore the troubles of others because I feel they are my sisters and brothers regardless of ethnicity, national origin, class, religion, or race.

I pray for them. I pray too for people like me, living in relative comfort. I pray for those who hold the power to act in responsible and humane ways to enlarge the realm of peace and security for all people and to hold accountable anyone who disregards the human bonds we share.

In the end, though, I am left with questions.

My Trouble with Seeing

I will miss this view
when the day comes
and I must go–this panorama
that stretches east and west far beyond
the edges of our wall of windows
on the northern exposure of our home.

There is so much to see each day
that I have trouble seeing it all.
My eyes appear to be open and yet it is only
with great difficulty that I see the neglected
children, the forsaken refugees, the hungry
families, the war-torn lands, on this troubled planet.

There is beauty in these hills I see stretched before me.
Yet what lies beyond them on other hills in other lands?
What sorrows accompany the families of those
whose lives are made brief by the trick of violence?
What misfortunes await the ones whose lives are lived
on the margins from somewhere to nowhere?

Copyright (c) 2008 Mark Lloyd Richardson