My brother’s keeper…

As the global community–and the United States in particular–struggle with how to respond to the situation in Syria, I find this statement from the Old Testament to keep resonating in my mind: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The simple answer to that question is yes. But then the challenge arises–just how does that play out?

If I am indeed my brother’s keeper, then I cannot ignore the abuse of the Syrian government in using nerve gas on its own citizens–men, women, and children. To do nothing is to leave the possibility open for another occurrence–if not by Assad, then by another dictator who feels the necessity to use it in order to prop up his government.

But what am I to do? Violence only seems to beget violence, and so I struggle with the idea that some kind of military reaction is the right solution. There is already so much violence in not only Syria but in that whole corner of the world. And neither side (if indeed there are only two sides) is completely innocent. Both the government and the rebels have made horrific choices in how they act.

My own government’s hands are not completely clean, either. We have had a history of supporting rulers who have perpetuated abuses against their own people because they supported us in some way…and then turning on them when either they stopped being malleable or when something better came along.

I wish I had an easy answer, but I don’t think there is one. I only know that I–we…all of us–must struggle with the concept of what it means to be our brother’s keeper…and how to live it out in this world that has become so interconnected.