Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Days 2 & 3

New to the site? Here's an explanation of what I'm doing. 

Well, days two and three of my 40 day challenge are under my belt! I took two intense hot power yoga classes (this morning and Monday morning), and I'm definitely feeling it! Although I practice a lot of vinyasa yoga anyway, I've found that when I'm doing a challenge, it sort of ups my game. For one thing, I'm not the only person doing it, so classes at the studio are usually even more packed than normal, and that makes the room physically hotter and more inspiring. Also, Sunday's class was loaded with a LOT of core work. I can still feel that class in my abs, let alone today's and yesterday's! But I'm not complaining, that's for sure.

My abs aside, it's important to me to keep the focus on my intention to raise money for the IRC's work with Syrian refugees and raise awareness about what these millions of people are experiencing. Yesterday, I read an article from the Guardian about Syria that I wanted to share here. It's a before-and-after look at key world heritage sites and other important historical places that have been decimated by the war. Click here to read it.  As an historian of the Middle East, and especially of the Levant, seeing this is beyond upsetting. The Syrian people's heritage, and the world's heritage, is being destroyed. Syria is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people. Moreover, it is a crucial historical site for Islamic and Christian history, it has significant Jewish history, it's the center of tremendous moments in the political history of the Arabs, Byzantines, Persians, Romans, and Greeks; it has amazing cultural traditions, insanely delicious foodways, remarkable material culture...I can go on and on. Seeing these key places devastated is just horrifying.

That being said, for every explosion and rape of the historical landscape, there are people who are losing their homes, jobs, and security. Looking at the destruction of buildings is not just looking at remnants of the past disappearing. It is witnessing the destruction of people's lives today. I want to put the focus on that. Here is a recent video from the IRC about the situation in December 2013 for Syrian refugees.


You can see from this brief glimpse that their work has a lot of challenges. However, with support from all of us, the IRC can make a real difference in real people's lives. I believe that we are all part of a one world human family. We all belong to each other, and we need to take responsibility and do something when we see others suffering. We can't take on the responsibilities of the entire world--that's too much for any one person. For me, as a Middle Eastern historian, I usually focus on this region, because it is one of my homes. The Middle East is an amazing part of the world that has seen an insanely disproportionate amount of human displacement due to war and political conflict over the recent decades. I fear for the futures of these new refugees, because I can see the terrible circumstances of refugee groups who have come before them. I want to make a difference, and so I appreciate you taking this journey with me to learn more and brainstorm about ways we can make a difference together.

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