Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 2, 2013

So, Syria…

I am writing this on what I hope is not what will eventually be known as the “eve of the war in Syria.”

I have alluded to the matters below once before, several years ago, and now, it’s becoming something which can no longer be ignored.

So, the President of the United States is debating whether or not to start firing U.S. Naval cruise missiles into Syria. If he does, the stated goal is not “regime-change,” and thus what the goal is at all seems totally unclear. Whatever the goal is, the result will not be anything other than one or more of the following: 1) provoking further atrocities by the current regime; 2) provoking retaliatory actions by Syria and its allies (including Iran and Russia) against the U.S., and potentially against Israel; 3) fomenting further terrorist anger at the U.S. amongst the innocent Syrian people and radicalizing them; 4) in short, simply messing things up even more than they are messed up at present.

But, what happens if nothing is done? The current regime continues to terrorize and kill its own people–indeed, over a hundred thousand have already died. The rebels may not exactly be the best cause to be supporting from outside, but the government certainly isn’t a just one either. And, of course, it’s the everyday people who will be most hurt by all of this, who more likely than not would simply like to live their lives and have a bit of peace in them. As it is, more than seven million people–a third of the country’s population–have already been displaced to Turkey and elsewhere.

I’m not at all a total pacifist; but, I’m also not for all-out warfare, or even targeted “surgical strikes” whenever and wherever these can occur; and I’m certainly not for the drone warfare that has been the norm and the accepted way of doing things for the last several years without due process or anything approaching ethical, sensible, or honorable (not to mention legal) warfare. It is a just cause to fight against oppressive and destructive governments, in my opinion; but, it’s also just plain stupid to simply fire missiles and expect that it will accomplish anything useful at all, particularly since the current regime seems bent on moving their potential military targets into civilian infrastructure (e.g. schools, neighborhoods, etc.) so that destroying those targets in missile attacks will also completely undermine daily life for people, which will infuriate them against the U.S. as much as it will against the tyrannical government currently in power.

And, of course, as a citizen of the United States, a taxpayer, an educator, someone who teaches military students and their families, and totally in common with almost every other individual in this country: I have absolutely no say in these matters, and signing petitions will not sway the President, Congress, or anyone else one way or the other in the course of actions that they take in the coming days. It’s about the only action that we everyday ordinary citizens can take, unfortunately, and while I wouldn’t discourage doing so, the likelihood that such actions will have much of an impact is less likely than not.

I hate to say it, but one of the only things I think we as responsible pagans and polytheists can do is pray, and preferably to the very old gods of Syria, who are yet alive and active and interested in the well-being of the people and the land in which they once thrived. Pray to the sun-god Yarhibol; to the gods Melqart and Echmoun (the latter of whom was syncretized to Antinous); to the goddess Allat–the same one who was later said to have been a daughter of Allah–all of whom were worshipped throughout Syria, and in the city of Palmyra (the Temple of Bel of which is shown above), where the Divine Hadrian was once governor, and where the Divine Septimius Severus also spent time. There are many other Syrian gods to whom one can pray, and I suggest you search them out, learn about them, and pray for the people of Syria’s safety and that peace and prosperity will rapidly return to that land, no matter what government may be over it or what religion might prevail in it. The gods are not gone, and their influence is not a thing of the past…

May peace and prosperity, and not artillery and projectiles, rain down on the people and land of Syria, in the name of that land’s great goddesses and gods!

May Antinous-Echmoun the Liberator stand with the people of Syria!


Responses

  1. I agree that it feels like we, as a collective people, cannot do anything to stem the tide of this looming war. But I disagree that signing petitions is a fool’s errand. I think the people who are vehemently against the war should remember that next year is 2014, and that elected officials are inherently selfish and wish to keep their cushy government jobs. So perhaps, also, pray that these warmongers who would willingly sacrifice the lives of both innocents and their own troops will themselves be forced out of office.

    • I never said it was a fool’s errand; I’m just not sure how effective any of them will be at anything other than making one feel like one is “doing something,” which isn’t a bad end in itself, but it may not end up doing anything about the actual problem in the immediate future…

      But, you’re very right that elected officials should be held accountable for their roles in all of this. Unfortunately, though, history has shown over and over again that such occasions of holding elected officials accountable in this country haven’t been as effective as we’d like them to be, either.

      No ordnance has been fired yet, so hopefully all is not yet lost…

  2. The way the Western media is portraying the current state of affairs is quite inaccurate. The use of chemical weapons was not Assad’s. Part of the reason even 9% of the population (according to Reuters and PolicyMic and a number of other news outlets) approves of this fustercluck is because they’re lapping up the b.s. the “bought” media is spoonfeeding them. Indeed, you’re better off getting your information from alternative, smaller news outlets and Arabic sources (NOT AL JAZEERA. They’re on-par with NBC at this point). Although, Business Insider recently published an article expounding upon how the American servicemen don’t support this offensive/war; we’ve all learned our lesson from the most recent Iraq War, since we’ve suffered the most from it for many years, but our politicians haven’t become any less greedy, any less apathetic, or any less murderous and destructive. It doesn’t effect them. They send our husbands and wives and siblings and children to die; not theirs, not themselves. They only continue to profit from the slaughter.

    The administration and the elite are the only elements pushing for this offensive — naturally for selfish reasons, with flimsy, hypocritical, 11-year-old justifications thinly veiling them — which will undoubtedly lead to large-scale, long-term war. Salon had a pretty interesting article on the whole Near East theatre/issue (http://www.salon.com/2011/11/26/wes_clark_and_the_neocon_dream/), and while the current conflict in Syria is not the result of America’s imperialist, expansionist tampering (for once), the current administration is absolutely looking to take advantage of the chaos. Reuters, The Guardian, and AlterNet have recently published a slough of articles echoing these and other looming dangers and the (rather obvious) ill intentions of our “Lib Hawk” leaders. Believe you me, Assad has got next to nothing to do with anything. Problem is that most people are pretty ignorant and are basing their views on misinformation when it comes to Near Eastern-anything, when it comes to Ancient, Medieval, and/or Modern History. Especially Modern History, as it has been made rather apparent to me in recent conversations with friends and acquaintances. For instance, most fail to recognize that there have been at least 6 Iraq Wars in Modern History (not all by that name), and that our forces uses white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilians at Fallujah during the most recent Iraq War (and using white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilians or anywhere near civilian areas is a war crime, and even using WP as an obscurant is illegal. Not that there are truly any rules to war, but, for those on the moral high horse of “WE MUST GET INVOLVED AND SAVE THE PEOPLE,” that’s something they need to acknowledge, and get off their damn high horse about, because the US is on zero moral high ground when it comes to chemical weapons and telling people not to use them — the US uses them all the time. Our leaders are glorified war criminals who deserve no less than what the Nazis sentenced during the Nuremburg Trials got. US intervention will only amount to more debt, more death, more of a dystopian reality than the one we’re already suffering through).

    Somewhat related: the late Chalmers Johnson is a Modern Political Scientist I highly recommend everyone read. Specifically his books “Blowback” and “The Sorrows of Empire.” He details a good deal of the fuckery that’s going on, and how it will require every fiber of our being to break the cycle and turn back the tide of perpetual war.

    Western nations, ESPECIALLY America, are not, should not be, and cannot afford to be “world police.” Syria has to be left to its own devices, much to every empathetic person’s chagrin. Involvement would spell doom for more than just Syria; it does no good to sacrifice everyone for the sake of a conflict our governments aren’t even telling the remote truth about. I think, at best, Western nations should provide some aid and shelter to refugees. Beyond that, nothing else. Anything more would likely spell doom for us.

    My prerogative is to “pray” by actively opposing the megalomaniacs and socially-accepted serial killers pushing for this war, and never ceasing to speak out against Western involvement until it is no longer an issue or a threat. The Gods (the ones not predisposed toward senseless carnage and discord, at least) will help those who help themselves in this and related matters. We aren’t SO helpless that the only thing we can do is sit at home, pray, and hope for the best. We take it right to where those slimy politicians live; they will learn to do what is right or they will be replaced by those who can act conscionably. There are more of us than there are of them. The keys to success are solidarity, smart planning and organization, and not giving up in the face of difficulty. Praying is not going to make those things happen. WE have to actively make those things happen.

    • At the same time, as polytheists, praying is the one thing we do which no one else will.

      Very definitely, by all means, there’s a lot we can do, but I invite people to investigate those things for themselves and figure out what they would feel is most effective and suited to their own interests and abilities; and, while doing those other things, also pray. Prayer never hurts to add in to the effort…

  3. You’ve left out an entire Syrian pantheon: the Canaanite one. Most of the Canaanite texts of the Bronze Age were found in Ugarit, which is in Syria.

    ‘Anatu is furious and has been for a very long time: an offering to her in her honor wouldn’t hurt. An offering and a prayer to ‘Athtartu, a goddess often known in the Bronze Age for her balance, fairness, and her action in treaties would certainly be in line. Largely, when I’ve prayed about such matters, I feel that the deities of the area are so hurt and so angry that they may not or cannot do much about the situation(s).

    Eshmun is in a great deal of pain. When I meditate upon him, he gives me the sense of being an exposed nerve. He’s been like that for a long time. There’s only so much he can or will do about this matter.

    People got us into this mess, and we the people are going to have to find ways of getting out of it. May the deities aid us in finding wisdom and right action, and may the ancestors aid us in avoiding doing something stupid.

    • By asking people to pray, I’m not suggesting that the gods will get us out of this. I do realize it’s a human-created problem, which will only be solved by human efforts.

      But, as I said in another comment a moment ago, prayer never hurts to do alongside anything/everything else one is doing. Or, perhaps not just prayer, but also offerings and such for the deities involved. They may not be able to do anything about this, but we can strengthen them and support them in their own times of difficulty as well…because as polytheists, no one else will do this if we don’t.

      • Absolutely prayer is a good thing. I didn’t assume that you had meant that we should only depend on divine intervention. I just wanted to point out that the gods of the region may not be so quick to lend aid in this matter. What refugee would want to help the homeland that despises them? It is the same with the deities.

        I am constantly making offerings to them to strengthen them and support them, and I, too, urge this course of action because it is the right thing to do.


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