The end of the siege of Aleppo came with fury and fanfare. The city’s fall—or liberation, depending on your politics—much like the entirety of its four years of unceasing war, was brutal.

Cluster bombs, the murder of civilians, the targeting of schools and health clinics, millions displaced, thousands dead and thousands more maimed. The art of war in Aleppo was harsh and minimalist. Steel, gas, blood, rage.

It was the frontline of the war in Syria—of all the world’s wars—for the last two years. Eastern Aleppo was fully besieged for the last ten months. It suffered the indiscriminate bloodbath of nightly air raids for the last four.

All of that is why the West can stop pretending to be shocked about the gross catastrophe of the Aleppian fall.

Astonishment now is disingenuous. We wear it to make ourselves feel better, but we have no right to act astonished.

The death of East Aleppo was not sudden. There was nothing surprising about it. The tactics were no more atrocious than what we have seen for years. The timing and swiftness of the regime’s hand was not exactly public knowledge, but it was also inevitable. The execution of citizens, the rape of women, the capture and murder of children—such crimes are not new. We have watched them for months in Syria, years.

What the world has witnessed in the last few years in Aleppo is a cloud of sharks circling, a ring of predators nibbling at a swarm. The water was filthy with blood already. Now that the sharks have gone full primal, swallowed the school whole and sunk all their teeth into the squirming center, we cannot act as though we did not see this coming.

This is what sharks do. It’s what they’ve always done.

What is more, they told us this is what they were going to do.

We watched them do it. On our hyper-sanitized television screens. In our Western-narrative newspapers. Through the narrow slit of our own personal Twitterverse.

We knew all along. And if we didn’t, shame on us, because the knowledge was there to be known—we simply ignored it or couldn’t accept the imminent peril.

Go ahead and be sad. Mourn with those who mourn. Post the articles that announce the desperate, despairing farewells of East Aleppo’s holdouts. Pass along the casualty counts, stories of unspeakable atrocity, the prayers—and pray them. But if we think Aleppo is ongoing, it’s not. It’s too late. It’s over.

And after we remember what we should never have forgotten, pass along this little wake-up call. We have no right and no reason to be surprised. If we as a nation or as individuals had planned to do more, why didn’t we?

No posting “Aleppo is falling” articles. No posting “8 ways to help Aleppo.” It’s insincere because there was a deadline and now it’s passed. Aleppo is not falling; it fell.

As a society we have looked on for years. We were not blind. The information, the war crimes, the horror was right in front of us. And still we looked, occasionally pausing to slacktivate our StandWithAleppo hashtags. It’s all well-and-good, so why now act like the last four years of Aleppian politics of the sword did not happen?

It didn’t take a crystal ball to see this destruction, this metrocide. All it took was acknowledgement of the plain facts. The truth was ugly, but it never was very good at hiding in Aleppo. The blood was too much to drain.

And now it’s in the streets. And in our eyes. Don’t look away. Look at the ruins and weep for the city we watched die.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson


  1. The western church is asleep in the culture of materialism. It is either trying desperately to fit in with the culture, or whining about being “persecuted” and worried about losing its freedoms. I hope the death of Aleppo wakes up some hearts.


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Well said. Something must wake us.


  2. The US did not become involved because there is nothing in it for us. No oil. No precious metals. Our craven politicians see no value in the innocent lives that have been lost and the blood that has been shed. The public is inured to a decade and a half of war in the Middle East that only a very small percentage of our population has experienced-it’s background noise to them. The suffering of refugees and their demonization clarifies for me what so called “christians” really believe. The gospel has been distorted and rendered meaningless by cowards braying about keeping America safe. Our doors used to be open, the lamp lifted to show the way. Shame and humility are no longer an acceptable postures. As a country we have lost our moral authority. We have turned our backs on those who needed us because it was not politically expedient. Thank you for the spotlight you have shone. Thank you for your humanitarian service to the refugee community. Thank you for your commitment to truth.


    1. Our Somali refugees and immigrants in Minnesota are learning the difference between the so-called Christians who voted out of fear and protectionism, and the real Christians who are meeting them at the airport with welcome banners, bringing them to their new homes stocked with essentials, and providing help in language learning and job searching. Arrive Ministries has a waiting list of churches ready to receive as many as the government will allow. We pray that many more individual Christians will wake up and hear Christ’s calling to share in the sorrows across the world.


      1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 17, 2016 at 12:32 am

        So wonderful to hear that there is actually a “waiting list of churches” ready to serve! In so many places the workers are few, which makes it all the more encouraging when we see an abundance of Christians eager to step up! Thanks!

    2. Griffin Paul Jackson December 17, 2016 at 12:30 am

      “It’s background noise to them.” That’s exactly right. It is just something happening “over there.” That is the common, convenient perspective, and it is hurting our witness and whatever effort we have a solidarity. Thanks for your thoughts and your correct, if tragic, diagnosis.

      Any thoughts on how to do better?


      1. I only wish I had the answer to your question, Griffin. Can anyone extinguish the insatiable need for power? Can anyone soften the hearts of those who see suffering and death but turn their backs on the desparate? Can anyone open the ears of those who refuse to listen to prophets? Must every generation suffer the loss of sons and daughters to war, disease, and famine? When I stop to think of all the things man is capable of peace seems to be the most elusive. Humanity seems to crave turmoil and dissent. As Individuals we are given the choice to act with charity or malice in our daily lives. Which option we choose depends on our level of compassion. Compassion and kindness need to be cultivated, nurtured, and cherished but everything in our culture deems those attributes as weakness instead of strength. My Grandmother sent three sons to fight in WWII, as a teenager I lived through the Vietnam era and listened to the nightly news reports tally the rising death toll. My cousin survived his tour but came home a broken young man who had witnessed too much horror. My oldest son enlisted in the Army and served two tours in Iraq. Before he left we had many conversations about that war and I urged him to remember that the war was forced on the citizens of Iraq by our own government. In an act of hubris by a man hoping to avenge his father and in an unending quest to secure our access to oil we have condemned hundreds of thousands to death and reduced that nation to rubble. If anything, I believe my son returned from his experience with more compassion in his heart because he had witnessed firsthand the futility and waste of war. I feel like I have rambled on here a bit too long casting about for an answer that has eluded mankind forever. There will never be peace on this earth but there can be daily acts of compassion, charity, and kindness that can shine a light on the possibility of a world without conflict. We cannot erase greed, envy, lust for power, or hatred of the other but we can, as individuals mitigate the pain and suffering of others by our refusal to participate in any act that causes them. We can participate in the act of voting; write letters to our representatives;resist any urge to condemn people of color, the poor, or those of a different religion; stand up to those who humiliate or bully, and support charities who’s work focuses on the alleviation of suffering. It all amounts to single acts of humanity.

      2. Griffin Paul Jackson December 17, 2016 at 11:47 am

        That was not a ramble at all. What an incredible testimony — generations gone to war and the lessons we learned (or didn’t learn, in too many cases). Your assessment about humankind’s insatiable lust for power is one hundred percent accurate. William Stringfellow talked about the “culture of death.” So did the prophets.

        Your prescription is also invaluable: “…we can, as individuals mitigate the pain and suffering of others by our refusal to participate in any act that causes them. We can participate in the act of voting; write letters to our representatives; resist any urge to condemn people of color, the poor, or those of a different religion; stand up to those who humiliate or bully, and support charities who’s work focuses on the alleviation of suffering. It all amounts to single acts of humanity.”

        God willing, by the power of the Spirit in individual lives and united communities, we will do it.

        Thank you so much for your thoughts. They are helpful to me and I’m sure to many others.

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