Reflecting on the Complicated Middle East

The black lettering reads “We are all Christians.”

Israel, Gaza, Isis, Iraq and all things Middle East are on many of our minds these days.

In respect to the Israeli-Palestianian conflict, we often ask, “Why is this conflict so complicated ? Among the reasons is its long history and each party telling its own version of it. We also know Iraq carries with its own complication. While the moral atrocities conducted by Isis are obviously evil, we again find the long-term solution to be weighty. Today we see a persecution that is bordering on holocaust that must be stopped.

The Middle East is certainly a topic that punishes you emotionally the more you read and learn. Sheer brutality, beheadings, sexual violence, children used as shields, missiles fired from churches, broken cease-fires, the perception of no mercy and brutal retaliation, and countless human rights abuses leave us extremely angry and frustrated. What is going on here? How do we stop it? How can we make things better? How can do it now?

Easy questions to ask, extremely difficult to answer and deliver. Our anger takes another step forward. What most of us want is to understand what’s what. When you don’t have access to the classified information and lack the power to mobilize an army or a peace delegation to stop the pain one way or another, you just feel powerless.

In the meantime, we try to read/scan/pick through all the content. There’s a lot of rehash, a lot of bias, and personally, I find more frustration. Frankly, I don’t really know what’s going on, there’s a lot of eye-witness accounts, a lot of opinion – some much better than others. There are images taken from other scenes and used for support, and all these other “snapshots” that don’t quite fill out the big picture. I even find some of the good guys and villains switching roles and it’s difficult to figure out who we can trust.Then because no one really knows, we attach the word “allegedly” to everything.

Then like with everything, there’s our own bias and perspective. This informs not just our starting points but our potential emotional investments, among other things. We could continue comparing perspectives but the point really is everyone has a different one. Further, no one can or should assume too much of the other perspective. Like we said, it’s complicated.

So what can we do?

Today, I’m feeling practical, strategic and spiritual and frankly, none of this seems that complicated. They may not lead to the short-term results we want today, but if enough people did them, it feels like things would change for the better.

I do think it’s a good idea to give when you can to organizations that can provide relief and aid, particularly in the short-term. I also think petitions are helpful in at least two ways. They create awareness in the people next to you and somewhere, someone gets a message that says, “People really care about this.” Action never comes fast enough but I find this helpful, particularly in cases like this one. Oh and don’t listen to those who say social media campaigns don’t work. They do. I’ll look around for some data and post at some point but they work to some extent. How do I know? Well because the guy/girl next to me used to not know about a particular issue and because of social media, he/she now does. Now, do these campaigns exhaustively fix all the problems of the world and bring God’s shalom? No. But they advance the good, bring relief, show care, and hopefully help the future for at least some. That’s helpful.

Our collective ignorance is a common feeling especially in the information age. There’s too much to know and if you don’t feel a bit ignorant on certain topics, chances are you are lacking a bit of self-awareness. So we have to catch up a bit. We have to maintain reading/studying/learning habits. We have to foster humble learning postures that help us to be slow to react negatively and quick to care.

Lastly, I’m not ashamed to be spiritual. I do think prayer is effective. It works for me and the people/situation I’m praying for. Further, prayer helps me to not pick a side, hate what’s evil and to petition God’s peace. Indeed, I would prefer if the heart of the violent was changed before a bomb was dropped on his head. I don’t have any control over the bombs but what if God used our intercession to change hearts, I would pray for that.

May the Lord’s strength be with those in need right now and may anyone who has the power to act, contribute, advocate, and pray do so today.


Research and support relief organizations. I am currently looking into Open Doors. If you have one to recommend, please let us know in the comments.

Sign this We the People Petition to the White House that seeks to “Help the Christians of Mosul and Iraq who are a part of the Modern Day Holocaust (click the link to read more and sign).

Watch this (link in picture as well): I’ve been attending the Q gatherings for a while now. Among the conversations is the Israeli—Palestinian conflict. Quoting the tag of the video: “Can Israelis and Palestinians work together toward peace? In this clip from their talk at Q Nashville in April 2014, Bassam Aramin (a Palestinian) and Robi Damelin (an Israeli), both of whom have lost children in the conflict, talk about their unlikely friendship and their work together.”

Finally, consider taking a few moments to pray before clicking off and moving on with your day.

Thanks for reading – grace and peace.


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