A small community of Trappistine nuns in Syria posted a letter on August 29 in which they present themselves as living in a state of suspenseful anticipation of President Barack Obama’s final decision about a potential intervention in Syria.
The letter may provide a glimpse of how average people in Syria view Obama as a leader who will “pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice.”
The following is a portion of the translated letter from the sisters, provided by Catholic World Report:
We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: “They’ve decided to attack us.” Today we went to Tartous… we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally. You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream…you see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the “inner” refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable…. You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people’s faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of “togetherness”…. And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. … Just like that. Because “it’s time to do something,” as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be….
Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?
The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!
A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?
The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.
The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”
The sisters moved from Tuscany to Syria in 2005 with the hope of establishing a permanent monastery on their land near the Syrian border with Lebanon. The monastery serves isolated Christian communities in a land that is primarily Muslim.
The sisters have provided an independent perspective on the turbulent events inside Syria through eye-witness reports published on their website and in the bishops’ newspaper, Avvenire.
Photo source: Monastery of Valserena