I have to admit it. My nomination of youth ambassador for peace 2016 by Pax Christi Vlaanderen did not bring peace inside of me. I had it before, this lack of inner peace. And it was father Paolo who discovered it first. Because before, in general, I would rather be the one who follows the public debates closely from home, while getting lost in reflections and writings. I would ask someone’s opinion and listen to those who feel oppressed, but I would prefer to remain silent and to reflect about what to conclude or not. But when it concerns Syria, everything became different.
Actually it was father Paolo who opened the door to another dimension for me, the door of social commitment. The first time in Deir Mar Moussa in 2009, where he encouraged me to take my deeper desires more seriously. The second time he took me by surprise while I was reading his second book in my bedroom, while I felt teared up because of chemical attacks in Syria. That year, everything would change. Through his book « La rage et la lumière. Un prêtre dans la révolution syrienne », that Paolo wrote together with Eglantine Gabaix-Hialé, Paolo managed to reach me again with his letter to a young European. “My young friend, he writes, I would like to dedicate this book to you. I imagine you, or I wish you, with a desire of commitment. You are Muslim, Christian, believer, atheist or searching and I address myself to your desire for the good, to your enthusiasm, for your longing to open up your eyes in the morning by saying to yourself: “It’s all worth it”.
And the more awful news from or about Syria reached me, the more I knew I cannot remain passive. I had to overcome myself and to meet with people, Belgians and Syrians, willing to do something together. And as for many of us, a whole new world opened up. I remember myself collecting clothes, a full basement, for SOS Syrian Children, or laying on the ground at the main square in Antwerp with Sven and Ambra, to symbolise the Syrians who died during the chemical attacks, and encouraged by others I also started to speak out, to speak about Syria, to speak about Paolo and to bring him under attention on an Antwerp square, in the monastery, … A whole new circle of committed friends surrounded me and I shared some of the most warm and precious moments with them.
When this nomination does not bring inner peace to me right now, it’s because of a different reason. It’s because I know how many people are committed to the Syrian case every day, Belgians and Syrians, and everything we managed to achieve or organise, was done together. I’m just a small link in a chain of great people. I feel small comparing to all these young courageous Syrians I meet the last years here in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe, there stories often blew me away. How to carry all this as a human? And of course I feel small next to father Paolo and all those who were willing to give their life’s for a better future for Syria, out of love for Syria. When I see my Syrian friends building up their life’s again here, with all the challenges it brings to them every day, I can only be full of admiration and respect for them, each day again.
So what to do with this nomination? Well, let us be clear, may all the honour go to every single one of them, to all these great Belgian and Syrian friends. To honour and to thank all of them. Let us never stop talking about Syria!
Voting is still possible till the 31th of October through this link: http://www.paxchristi.be/nieuws/stem-mee-jongerenambassadeur-voor-de-vrede-2016