What to do when feeling overwhelmed by news of war

candle As I spend the week having a clear-out at home and fussing over which colour cushion should go where, I can’t help but feel like it all seems so trivial. At a time when people in countries like Syria and Iraq are fleeing (or being forced) from their homes – homes which they surely love just as much as I love mine – into chaos and an unknown future, I consider four really simple things we can all do to support those suffering as a result of war.

1. Get to grips with why there is fighting in the first place
If I am perfectly honest, up until now I have had very little grasp on exactly why there are wars raging in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and various other areas around the world. After some research I soon realised the initial reasons for conflict are often obscure but it is possible to gain a simple understanding of the issues.
After watching this video, which vastly simplifies the background to the war in Iraq, I now know the war is mostly faith driven. How atrocious that people are not able to practice their faith freely without fear of being bombed or even buried alive.
To gain insight into the fighting in Ukraine, this blog post proved sufficient in explaining the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. Sadly, it appears the bible verse,”For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), rings true in this case as the fighting and bloodshed was initially triggered by an economic deal with the EU which collapsed.
Pursuing a deeper understanding of issues helps me to feel more connected with the situation as well as those who are suffering through it and prompts me take action rather than turn the other way through indifferent ignorance.

2. Sign a petition
I have come to appreciate the potential impact of our collective voices used to speak out against injustice. Taking a simple action such as signing a petition might seem like a futile gesture, but it isn’t. Great change can happen when we show our governments that enough of us care about a particular issue. It will take 2 minutes today to sign this petition being put forward by Oxfam calling for peace in Gaza. If I had lost my home and I was sitting in a refugee camp or fleeing for my life, I would hope people around the world might care enough about a fellow human being to simply sign their name in support of ending my suffering.

3. Choose one charity’s crisis appeal to support
If you are anything like me, you might be subscribed to countless charity mailing lists. When it comes to times of emergency or crisis, my inbox gets flooded with emails depicting children crying or people surrounded by devastation. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Although it might seem heartless, I choose one organisation to support and then I delete the emails from the others. In deciding which charity to donate to, I go with one I know and trust and has a proven track record in similar situations in the past. This time I have chosen to give to the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal. There is a long list of trusted partner organisations with whom the DEC are working and this way I know my contribution will be used in the most appropriate way.

4. Pray
As a Christian, praying is the most powerful way I can support those who are caught up in these awful conflicts. In saying this, it can often feel like the situation is just too big to even pray about. However, I have witnessed the effectiveness of prayer in my own life time and time again, so why not on a global scale? A few organisations such as Tearfund and Christian Aid have produced helpful guides on how we can pray for those affected. Praying for people who I have never met allows me to connect with their situation despite the distance between us.

As you watch the news tonight or read about further developments in one of the above-mentioned conflicts, perhaps you might feel less helpless having chosen to act on one or more of the suggestions above. In doing so, you may never know the impact of your actions but you might just have made a difference to someone’s life that perhaps would not have been saved if not for your compassion.

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