IMG_0345My wife with her Grandfather (Jiddu)

When my wife and I married, we took each other’s names, so one of my middle names is now Alex. It probably really should be Aziz. When my wife’s family on her father’s side immigrated to the United States from Syria early in the 20th Century, like so many other immigrants, the family name was changed to sound more “American.” So now, my wife, my children, and I all have Alex as our middle name. I have often wondered what it would be like if it were still Aziz instead of Alex. Would we be treated differently at airports when we travel? I am afraid the answer is probably yes.

As the civil war in Syria has developed and escalated, I cannot help but think of the many cousins my wife and children have there whom they have never known but who are likely living and dying in chaos at this time. I would have liked to have taken my family to Syria at some point to visit the areas their family came from and perhaps find a way to meet some of those cousins. I still hope that can happen one day. I am not an absolute pacifist, but I believe that we choose violence and war much more often than should be the case. At this point, I see military strikes as only escalating the violence, with more people eventually dying. This does not mean we should disengage, but I think our engagement for bringing any hope of peace should not be the engagement of military strikes. Let us do all we can in Syria, across the world, in our own nation, and in our community to reduce violence and increase justice.

When it comes down to it, we are all a part of the human family, and we are all related. How can we find ways to invest in peace rather than warring with each other?

Note: Aziz means powerful, respected, or beloved.

About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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