Yahoo asked Americans to react to President Barack Obama's address on Syria on Tuesday evening. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | I think this is the real question many Americans are pondering as we grapple with President Obama's speech in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Obama began his speech tonight by stating he wants to "talk to you about Syria -- why it matters, and where we go from here." He laid out background on the Syrian civil war under Assad's regime, while including graphic detail about Assad's use of chemical weapons in 11 neighborhoods on Aug. 21. Furthermore, he posited this event alongside our own American experience with gas during WWI, and the Nazi's use during WWII. How could any human -- mothers, fathers, teachers, civilians, children, military -- not be moved by such images and historical events?
Sitting with my eighth-grade son by my side, I felt the anguish of the Syrian parents as they watched their loved ones innocently die a horrific death. As Obama explained the indisputable facts obtained that directly point responsibility to Assad's regime, I saw flickers of understanding of the bigger picture -- of why Obama might be calling for a need to strike.
When Obama stated, "When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory," I started to think about how hard I work as a teacher to show kids the power of using their voice and advocating for what they believe is right. I teach my children that if they look the other way, if they remain silent, they are silently agreeing to the act or word or belief they witness. I wondered if, in this situation, that means we risk the fears of an American public tired of war and fearful of retaliation.
I agree we cannot let the bullies win. I agree that America shouldn't jump into war, should use diplomacy, sanctions and negotiation to rid our world of those who prey on innocents. And I'm glad that tonight, no boots are on the ground, and that tonight, it seems that Syria may be admitting its wrongs.
Jennifer Wolfe is a mom to two teens and is a middle-school teacher in Davis, Calif.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- Barack Obama