Bells of Lament for Aleppo

October 24, 2016

Sometimes while watching tragedies on the news it seems there is nothing we can do. And perhaps that is almost true. There are times when there's nothing we can do except offer our laments. The city of Aleppo seems like one of those cases.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland started an effort called "#BellsForAleppo," urging churches to ring their bells to draw attention to the besieged Syrian city. The idea spread to other countries and other denominations. A website for the initiative explains it's a way to remember "the victims of Aleppo massacre and to demand end to ongoing killing."

"Funeral bells are usually tolled when a coffin is escorted out of the church. Now, funeral bells are ringing as a reminder for people to respect and remember those who have had their lives taken in Aleppo. ... The bells are a demand to end the ongoing killing in besieged Aleppo, as well as an outcry against the devastating impact on the population and infrastructure caused by the bombings on the 3,000-year-old city."

(photo for the #BellsForAleppo effort on Facebook)

#BellsForAleppo may not seem like it does much. And when it comes to ending the killing in the city, that might be true. But lamenting can be a powerful act to transform ourselves and others.

As we ring our bells for Aleppo, perhaps it helps educate people about the devastation. Then we wouldn't see a presidential candidate ask "what is Aleppo" or see people searching for the definition of "leppo" (as in 'what is a leppo') after presidential debates.

As we ring our bells for Aleppo, perhaps it teaches us to focus on what really matters. Frivolous infotainment too often grabs our attention, so we look away while people die. We aren't going to act if we don't know and we don't care. We must mourn with those who mourn.

I don't know what to do about Aleppo. I do fear, though, that both of our main presidential candidates will simply add more fuel to the fire. But I refuse to do nothing. So I will offer a lament. And I will ring a bell for Aleppo.

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