“We ate grass”

photo from BBC news website

This story and news video broke my heart.


I don’t have any personal connection with Syria, and to be honest, I haven’t paid as much attention as I should to the civil war there. But yesterday, I read about the civilians fleeing Moadamiya after months of siege by government forces.

They are starving. No food or medical supplies had been allowed inside this suburb of Damascus. One lady told the reporter,

“We didn’t see bread for nine months . . . We were eating grass and leaves.”

I can’t imagine. I remember the hunger pains from when I was anorexic, the gnawing, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I tried to fast for spiritual reasons. That was nothing, nothing, like the hunger these men, women and children have felt.

I watched the accompanying video. At one point, humanitarian workers help an elderly lady sip on a bottle of water. Tears sprang to my eyes.

Such a simple act: giving someone a plastic bottle of water. I’ve done it dozens of times, given these bottles to my children or visitors or the termite inspection man. But it’s never had this significance.

 Such a simple act: sipping a bottle of water. I’m drinking water now, having called it quits on caffeine for the day. This morning at the gym, I gulped water between sets of squats and presses. All my fellow gym-goers had water bottles of some sort, from the guy on the elliptical who talks to himself, to the man stretching, to the worker behind the front desk. I packed water bottles in my children’s lunch boxes. Such a simple act. Yet this lady shook so much that she needed help holding the bottle to her lips.

It’s hard not to feel compassion for these victims of war.

It may be difficult to understand the conflict, or agree on how (or if) other governments should intervene, or even know how to pronounce the name of these suburbs of Damascus. But it shouldn’t be difficult for us to understand this:

People are starving.

People are dying.

People are people, even when they dress and speak differently than I do.

I need to care what happens to them.


5 thoughts on ““We ate grass”

    1. It’s hard, and sometimes I stop and wonder WHY it’s hard: what in me doesn’t want to care? or is it a combination of outside life forces (busyness, etc.) and inner forces (my own selfish nature) that team up to create an un-caring me? Then I wonder why I have to analyze everything around me!


  1. Laura. Great post. There is no simple answer and no simple solution; it is to a great extent out of our hands. I give very carefully to a number of charities and I often give what I can to homeless Big Issue sellers. I don’t trust that many charities these days as it has largely become a business much like organised religion has to a certain extent.

    In the end, you can’t do everything but you might be able to do something! Worrying about is a wasted emotion and wasted energy. It won’t help you or those suffering. I am unemployed myself but compared to these wretches I am happy and healthy and have much to be grateful to God for. Count your blessings, don’t feel guilty, and see if you can do anything; even a small thing is good.


    1. Great advice, Tim. I tend to try to carry other people’s burdens in an unhealthy way–worrying, feeling ALL their emotions (or what I imagine them to be!), etc.–and that doesn’t do the other person any good.


  2. Laura. I know I have issues similar to you because in the past I had severe depression, and that can make you go from delirious hope to dreadful despair, and back again. I am getting over that now but at times I have worried myself sick over all kinds of things, mostly personal things if I am honest.

    The western countries are all about ambition, personal pleasure, getting on and so on. These to a great deal involve a great deal of individualism and obviously a certain amount of selfishness. How do we counter that natural selfishness whilst still having goals, ambition, dreams and aspirations???


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