The Question of Syria: What the Teachers and History books can’t tell you

DSCF4963The suspenseful and tense atmosphere in the auditorium addressed The Question of Syria in the form of a Discussion Panel featuring Cameron Janzen, Carl Wilkins, Dr. Todd Kent, Darby Sinclair and Obadah Diab. Each person had his or her own way of looking at it. Wilkens and Diab focused more on the humanitarian side of the situation; Dr. Todd Kent and Sinclair had the more academic and political perspective. The Discussion began with a statement by Janzen stating, “by no means do I consider myself an expert on the Syrian question” and the discussion between the panellists began, each panellist has the chance to speak for 3-5 minutes, Janzen was the first of the 5 panellists.

Janzen says that the question of Syria relates to not only the world but also his own experiences of travelling to the country of Syria before the outbreak. He hadn’t studied Syria before he travelled, and Janzen usually researches the places he travels to before going. What “struck” Janzen was “the line between normality and chaos”, the panellist following Janzen was Diab, a senior at Qatar international school and had visited Syria around 3 weeks ago as a youth activist, it was the fourth time he had visited Syria since the crisis.

Diab focused on the lives of the people, during the ongoing crisis and having lived in a refugee camp for 2 weeks among the people. According to Diab “they were urged to move away from their families, from education, from having a roof protecting him”. He had experienced Syria in the extreme heat, and the extreme cold having visited Syria weeks at a time throughout the period of four years and said that he had to have “7 or 8 blankets covering” during the wintertime. Wilkens followed up on Diab’s discussion by continuing the humanitarian discussion by comparing it to his own experiences in Rwanda. The lessons he would like to address were when Wilkens was in Rwanda he had to “find allies even among people that you wouldn’t expect to be allies”. Wilkens’ plea is in “re-humanizing people, and then seeing them as people and even believing that within each group there’s people there that feel pain”, with the idea both that the media isn’t seeing the people as a whole and that a person shouldn’t judge a group by the individuals that lie beneath and that it is sometimes more important to understand “the act of solidarity”. The panellist the followed Wilkens was Dr. Kent who was more academic in his discussion.

According to Kent’s brief discussion, “you are the future leaders” and that “It’s up to your generation to have to come up with some new answers”, Kent states that there is an issue not just here but in many parts of the world who have this “desire for stability” and that it isn’t instant. According to a UN representative Dr. Kent had met before “For every year of the crisis, it’s going to take 5 more years to recover”. Sinclair followed up on Dr. Kent by starting out by saying that “it is important to look at the macro level of the suffering and people’s lives”. Sinclair quoted John Kerry, secretary of state in the United States “But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about. And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency.” To end the discussion Sinclair mentioned “ It always comes back to the reconstruction and support needed in that region” and that “stopping the conflict might not now seem very achievable but it’s about those creative solutions and the new generations to be coming up with ideas of how can there be greater stability within that region”.