For Syria: Fast, pray ... and call your Congressional reps
The world is turning out to join Pope Francis in a prayer vigil for peace in Syria, as the United States mulls military action against the Assad regime. ("Mulls" may be a deceptive word here, given that the outcome, if history is any indication, is completely predetermined.) I was encouraged to hear on my local NPR affiliate coverage of a town meeting held by Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Democrat representing parts of southwest Chicago and suburbs, in which a woman identified herself as a Catholic and said that "we" are against military action in Syria. Presidential power, meet the power of the papacy. No armies, but plenty of moral authority to muster.
I'm delighted that Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer to oppose more violence in Syria, and glad that Eastern patriarchs and the head of Syria's Sunni Muslims have joined his call. But as an American and a citizen in our democracy, something more is needed. If "we" are really against our standard American knee-jerk response to bomb whatever we don't like, then in addition to our fasting and prayer must be a call to two Senators and a Congressional representative. If there is any way to head off further destruction in Syria--and the inevitable suffering that will bring on the Syrian people--it will take a big "no" from the American people.
That is not to say the world doesn't owe the 100,000 dead in Syria, the 2 million or so refugees, and the 4 million or so internally displaced Syrians our action. The U.S. and its allies could be trying to choke off the flow of weapons to the Assad regime and to the rebels in the hopes of forcing negotiations. Nations such as Jordan need financial assistance to care for the hundreds of thousands of refugees they are now hosting.
To summarize: prayer and fasting for peace, almsgiving for the needs of those suffering, and calls to those with the power to stop further violence.