On Donald Trump, and war as a means to an end ….

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If this blog was about book reviews, or cooking, or home decor, I’d probably never have moments when I think “some people are going to hate this post”. But this blog is BethBlog, a place for me to say everything I feel like saying whenever I feel like saying it, so I’ve had many of those moments. Because I can be quite a bitch, I kind of like the feeling of stirring the pot – of making people cringe. Some situations call for a bitch – beg for one – and I happily oblige. Other times, I just don’t feel like beating around the bush, so I go in for the kill. In any case, here I go again …. Some people are going to hate this post, for two reasons: 1) I’m saying that President Donald Trump has done something good and 2) I’m saying that violence is sometimes justified.

The civil war in Syria has taken a vast and terrible toll on Syrians. Nearly 500,000 Syrians have died as a result of the conflict over the past six years. Half of a million people – to put that in Canadian terms, Hamilton or Quebec City – and over 50,000 of these were children. President Bashar Al-Assad is raining hell on his country in the form of torture, starvation, bombs and chemicals. A steady tide of refugees has been washing up on the shores of many countries, everything they own on their backs and clutched in their arms, pleading for asylum – for protection, rest and hope. It’s a long, dangerous, crowded-yet-somehow-lonely path, with no guarantee of a happy ending. I’ve met some of them. I don’t even want to imagine the miseries they have endured. Their eyes haunt me.

What have we done about it? Well, so far, we’ve absorbed some of their stories, patched up some of their wounded, resettled some of their fallout. These are all good things, and we should keep doing them. But have we tried to stop the destruction? No – unless you call clucking and finger-wagging action. Every time this madman commits another horrific crime against humanity, we all line up to condemn it – and then we move on. As if Al-Assad gives a rat’s ass what we think of his murderous regime. As if, one fine day, he might stop what he’s doing and say “oh, gosh, I had no idea that what I am doing is so bad – I’m sorry, you guys”. Like a shitty parent giving unlimited chances and countdowns while their child wreaks havoc, the world wearily says “no, no, Bashar, that’s wrong – please stop, or we’re going to get really upset”. Then he keeps doing what he’s doing while we gamely ignore him. A shitty parent threat was levelled against Al-Assad in 2012 regarding the use of chemical weapons – then-President Barack Obama said that this was a “red line” that Al-Assad had better not cross. Up until then, America had stayed out of the Syrian conflict – but if chemical weapons came into play, Obama said, the game would change. In 2013, chemical weapons became a confirmed factor – and the Obama administration looked the other way. This past week, chemical weapons were used again. At least 86 people died in agony. Our darling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a war crime, and condemned it “in the strongest of terms”. Whoa, there, big fella!

Imagine if the world had reacted the same way when Adolph Hitler and his army started bombing, torturing, slashing, and gassing their way across Europe.  “Now, now, Hitler – this is not nice, and none of us like it. Stop it, or we’re going to get really upset. Oh! Look what you’ve done! Poland …. We just said stop – now we’re mad. Ugh. He’s done it again. There goes Holland. Would you look at that? That’s alot of Jews, gypsies and gays. Seriously, we can’t do a thing with this guy. He just keeps going. Ah, well. What can you do? Hitler! We’re so mad at you right now. #PrayforEurope #JewsArePeopleToo #HitlerBlows #WorldSoMad #NotMyGermany”  I have a feeling that things would have gone very differently than they did – and we certainly would not be celebrating the contribution of heroes to the security and freedom of our world every November 11.

Enter Donald Trump. Two days ago, America fired Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from which the chemical attack was launched. Citing the painful deaths of innocents, the continued destabilization of the region and the affect of that on Syria and the rest of the world – as well as our collective failure throughout six years of civil war to change the situation with words and sulking – Trump called on all of us to join America in forcing an end to the suffering. And he is right. Yes, the massively mocked, deeply hated, orange-haired buffoon that seems to have turned the highest office in the free world into a bad joke …. is right.

Violence is a dreadful thing. It’s evil. I hate it. But, sometimes, it is necessary. People – millions of them – desperately need our help against a force that is far more powerful than them and seeks to destroy them in every way. How can we continue to look away as the atrocity unfolds – and worsens – mumbling platitudes about peace and goodwill and brotherhood while Syria and its people burn? Al-Assad has not responded to criticism, argument, disapproval, condemnation or threat. It’s time to tighten the screws. If America’s strategic attacks can bring Al-Assad to his knees and save the Syrian people from hell on earth, I say fire away.

“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”  –  Ulysses S. Grant

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I wish it would look alot more like Christmas.

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Readers, forgive me, for I have sinned – it’s been nearly three weeks since my last post. It’s Christmas. I love Christmas – love it, love it, love it. So why don’t I do what I always do when I get excited about something – blabber relentlessly about it until people either succumb or go away? As usual, the reasons for my writer’s block are not entirely clear. I’ve been ridiculously busy lately. To the point of bloodshed. I’m usually busy anyway – in fact, I’m not sure there’s been any point over the past ten years (coincidentally, the amount of time for which I’ve been a parent) that I could say I wasn’t busy. Add the whirlwind of decorating, baking, buying, posting, hosting and partying that Christmas brings with it, and I’ve got a great excuse for not writing. However, last year, I wrote pages about Christmas – during Christmas. So having lots going on can’t be the only answer.

I think it’s more likely that many of my reasons for e-silence are all in my head. My mind is even busier than my body. I’ve been feeling dragged down and snowed under by what’s going on. (Thank you, Marvin Gaye, for that smooth groove ….)  Bullying that persists until children feel they have no choice but to put an end to themselves. Horrific cases of abuse surfacing, presented in all the lurid detail the press is so good at applying. Mass shootings. Natural disasters. Russia running roughshod over eastern Ukraine. Terrorism curling its tendrils into every country. Evil people finding each other and forging allegiances. ISIL destroying human lives and ancient cities and everyone’s faith in humanity. The crush of Syrian refugees risking everything for freedom, and meeting rejection instead of open arms – and little Alan Kurdi facedown in the sand on a Turkish beach. Hatred flowing from keyboards onto the internet and screaming at me. Grey-sky days and buckets of rain on the lifeless ground where there’s usually a blanket of white by now. Donald Trump, for the love of orange faux fur. Come to think of it, maybe 4 Non Blondes are a better choice for all this than Marvin Gaye.

I’m usually a fairly optimistic person, and I’ve been preparing for Christmas – and treasuring the preparations – like I do every year. But I feel like every time I try to write there’s s0me fresh hell to contemplate, thanks to our troubled world and the inescapable hisses and shrieks of social media – and a lump in my throat. On the other hand, as I said earlier, I wrote oodles of Christmas content last year. And it’s all still true this year – and maybe worth sharing again. So I’m going to add another sin to my writer’s rap sheet: reusing content. I’m going to re-post what I said last Christmas, and maybe I’ll cheer myself up rereading it.

Here’s the first Christmassy post I created last year, on December 1:

“Have a holly, jolly Christmas! No, really, you can …. here’s how.”