All across multimedia channels, we are frozen by countless images of explosions, fear, death and nightmares in the sands of the Middle East.
As someone living and working in Iraq, I can state that this is and isn’t so. There is so much beauty, wonder and hope. Here, I take pictures of beautiful landscapes, snowcapped mountains, green fields and flowers blooming richly in every color of the rainbow.
But there are also the mothers who’ve lost their husbands and sons; the wives and daughters who were kidnapped into sexual slavery; the homes that were stripped bare and left with bombs behind. This is the aftermath of the stories when an enemy attacks and people try to flee for their lives. Now people live in tents and wait to go home, but they have to live with the memories and images of what they now know.
These are the innocent victims caught in a world that is hungry for power, money, land or anything but peace.
I think, really, that most people want peace. Of course everyone needs food, shelter and clothing, but after that, I think most desire a level of comfort and ease. But there are those who have an impossible thirst for more, and will take it from those who appear weaker. And they don’t necessarily care just how much damage they do.
These are the scars that need healing. These are the wounds that need prayer, counseling, money, aid and support.
These are the realities that we shouldn’t close our eyes to when we turn off the TV or shut down the computer.
All the racial and economic problems we read about in America are based on the same conditions I see here. There are years and years (and years!) of hatred, hurt, anger, abuse, murder, revenge and cruelty that work in cycles. These rivalries have been around for thousands of years. It’s right there in the Bible, and it exists today. Hate causes hate. Love more often than not produces peace and love in return.
Love is harder. Love takes more work. Love is sacrificial.
Love is worth it.
I think that’s why God talks about love so much. Because it’s more complicated and more delicate.
Hate is easy: You can throw a punch, gossip about someone else, steal, curse or kill. But love…love requires patience. It needs kindness. A lot of thought goes into an act or service of love.
But the thing about love is that we can all do it. Loving people isn’t so special that it can’t be done. Love is there for all of us. I think we are designed to love people. To do it in ways that inspire us and move others to do the same.
I also believe love is an action verb, and not just a feeling.
And we can love people in our neighborhood or around the world, and pray for them too, or raise money to send to those in need.
Because really, what we see is just a snapshot of real life. And real life goes on well past the time the media finds some other hot topic to talk about. So love and keep loving, and don’t forget. Because we never forget about those we truly love.
David Sandler has worked in Indonesia, Haiti and now Iraq as a humanitarian aid worker for nearly 10 years.
To support Medair in the Middle East or other disaster areas, please click here.
The views expressed herein are solely my own and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any organization.