On Tuesday, September 23rd, U.S.-led multi-national airstrikes against Syrian terrorist group ISIS commenced in the vicinity of Raqqa, Syria. Though the U.S. has not been as involved in the past, these past few days have made it official that we are at war with ISIS.
What is Pope Francis' and the Vatican's response to these airstrikes?
Surprisingly, they support the airstrikes... if it amounts to more than 100,000 Christian refugees at the mercy of ISIS freed and alive.
Opinions to these airstrikes are evenly split: some support the attacks as the American responsibility to rid the world of terrorism and make freedom safe. Others argue that after 10+ years of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are overstretching ourselves and that it is not in the best interest of the (war-weary) American people to engage in yet another Middle Eastern conflict.
All is Love Poet, aspiring Novelist and artist Pedro Mendoza surely feels more the latter: "Me? I've had enough of war. After nearly a decade of fighting overseas, I feel as if we had enough! We've spent billions of dollars on military might, but not even $1 on other American essentials like education, medical research, healthcare, construction, etc. We engage in overseas conflicts yet our own nation is socially divided and deeply troubled. Am I happy that we dismantled Bin Landin? Of course I am. Do I want those refugees to be rescued, especially Christian refugees? You bet I do. I just don't think another war is what this country needs."
Even in Pope Francis' tone, there is an air of division on which is the right course to take: “I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” the pontiff said in reference to ISIS, according to CNN. “I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means.” But he adds, "We must also have memory: How many times under this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor the powers [that intervened] have taken control of peoples, and have made a true war of conquest.”
With the senseless killing of Christian and religious refugees by ISIS, yet reluctance to send boots on the ground, let alone airstrikes into another war, where is the line drawn? Which is the more holy action?
It's a very divisive issue with no easy answer or outcome.
So instead, we purpose a different answer: to make a world without war, peace first begins... with YOU. In every story, the central main character gains an epiphany, a realization that the unideal situations that surround him can only change if he/she changes his/her attitude towards them and the potential for more. Dr. King realized that in order to free African-Americans from the oppressions of racism, he had to change his sense of purpose and become that change which he and his generation sought long for. When All Is Love founder Brandon Morel aka The Symbol saw youth and culture influenced by the relativism and egoism of modern culture, he realized that he couldn't just "shout" for change to happen, that he had to change himself first and become that "Symbol" of self-sacrifice - hence All is Love.
Our thoughts and prayers are with more than 100,00 refugees in Syria and the Middle East, that #LOVE keep them in peace and that they may return to their loved ones and/or leave the hostile environment for a new land of peace. We pray for our President and government, that they may be guided by love, justice and honor in choosing peace over war.
And finally, we pray for YOU reading this right now. We hope that regardless of the current situation is now, that you may find peace and love through your own change. Peace is possible if we start with ourselves.