As Zach Ingber ’15 argued in a Feb. 12 Herald opinions column, there is a deafening silence on Brown’s campus around the continued ravaging and slow dissolution of Syria. As of Feb. 13, over 70,000 had died in the conflict, according to estimates from the United Nations.
Children are being whisked away into prisons and being tortured for information on troop movements. An Iranian journalist was killed by a sniper while reporting, live and on the air. Damascus, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and home to over 1.7 million people, is slowly being leveled month after month by guerrilla attacks and loyalist crackdowns.
This is a vicious free-for-all shredding the fabric of Syrian history. It is also one the majority of our student populace seems content not discussing. But how can this be?
Perhaps it is because people keep telling students that we need to discuss Syria — that we need to be offended, protest and get active. But Brown students seem unable “wake up” to the facts of Syria without an incentive or avenue to do so.
While we believe Brown students should be informed and care about the Syrian crisis, fulfilling this idea remains difficult. Merely demanding that students care about the issue is inefficient and impractical. People tend to care about issues when they have chosen to invest effort in learning about them.
But we can encourage the community to further explore avenues of information to learn about the crisis — we can wage our own campaign against the reigning regime of ignorance. We cannot push students into actively taking up the Syrian cause, but we can make students aware of the violence and turbulence there, as well as the conflict’s potential ramifications regarding human rights, dignity and freedom.
These avenues of information are varied and provide unique perspectives on the Syrian conflict. But not all avenues are efficient: For instance, having a campus event like a forum won’t attract those who aren’t already passionate about the subject.
Rather, we should channel this issue through more active and wide-reaching platforms — for instance, newspapers, blogs and magazines. This way, awareness of something like the Syrian conflict can be spread — not localized among only those who take a special interest to it.
We have the power of social activism, and students should look at quality sources of media to extend their understanding of the issues like the Syrian conflict.
Even if students are not interested in the geopolitical or journalistic ramifications of popular media coverage of events like the Syrian conflict, that coverage can be a truly enlightening lens to understanding a culture and context far removed from our own immediate lives.
As informed and relatively free citizens of the world, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves, and from that education develop views and beliefs.
We cannot demand that the student body be passionate about the Syrian conflict, but can still present the avenues for them to learn about it, capitalizing on what students already do and read to offer them new, relevant information.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Dan Jeon, and its members, Mintaka Angell, Samuel Choi, Nicholas Morley and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.