Syrians need us to remember our humanity

I’m having a hard time with humanity today. I’m having a hard time understanding how eyes can be so closed, and hearts can be so cold. I’m having a hard time understanding why living in a different country makes you less deserving of life.

As news stories, videos, and pictures spread of the most recent chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, the hashtag #SyriaHoax began to trend on Twitter (It is, in fact, still trending.). I won’t repost here what those tweets contained, as they don’t deserve repeating. Suffice it to say they were ugly, sad, and full of dangerous lies.

It is unimaginable to me that someone would, with a straight face, say these atrocities aren’t happening. That these images are fake. I just honestly have no words.

I’m not going to offer a policy laden post here. I’m not going to tell you how our governments should respond — although I do have thoughts about that.

I simply have a request. Those of us who have the privilege of ignoring such atrocities. Those of us who live in peaceful countries, with no fear of war, and no concept of what these people must be experiencing. Make the choice to pay attention. Make the choice to see these atrocities. Make the choice to see the Syrian people for who they are — people.


Here are a few stories I’ve collected from the past few days:

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 9.25.31 PMThis video is definitely hard to watch, but I think it’s important. This shows the immediate aftermath of the bombing, as well as the work of the White Helmets as they attempt to save people suffering from the chemical attack.

This father lost his 9 month-old twin babies, his wife, and 25 members of his extended family.

This 13 year-old boy watched 19 of his family members die in front of him. That he survived is a miracle.


As I wrote this post, the US launched more than 50 tomahawk missiles at Homs. This scares me. There is no strategy here. There is no plan. My thoughts are with the people of Syria, as I believe even darker days are yet to come.

Glorious day for organizing and planning!

Happy Saturday, friends!

IMG_1661Thought I’d take a moment and give you a little glimpse into what a day in the life looks like when you’re attempting to write your first book. Spoiler: it’s not exactly what you’d think!

Here is what I’ve learned thus far: the beginning stages of book writing involve far less writing and far more planning and organizing than I originally expected.

When I embarked on this journey in January, I had this idea that I would just jump in and write the first chapter no problem. Since I already had a strong base of knowledge on the Responsibility to Protect, it should have been easy to just bust out a few thousand words, right? This has definitely not been the case.

While admittedly I initially felt a bit defeated about this, I’ve come to realize it’s all part of the process. So, I’ve slowed down and am now working on putting together a list of people I would like to interview about R2P and related matters. These will be good background for the book, as well as a refresher and learning opportunity for me.

That means today has been spent creating interview questions, making a list of people I’d like to interview, and thinking of creative ways to share these interviews with you in the process. I will keep you posted on what comes of this plan.

In the meantime, here’s today’s working soundtrack. Enjoy! (oh, and feel free to check out my good ol’ donate button on the side of the page. 😀 )

Printer Wars and Book Funding Ideas

IMG_1591Last week, I announced the launch of this fancy new website, as well as my big new book project. This week, I’m plugging away reading articles, making lists, rethinking how I’ve laid out my writing schedule, and pondering how I am going to create just the right voice for this book. This, by the way, is more difficult than I thought it would be. The multiple different drafts of my first section, none of which are quite right, are a testament to that. How does one find the balance between their academic voice and their casual voice? I will be sure to let you know when/if I figure this out…

What I have learned thus far is that book writing includes infinite hours of simply thinking without much tangible progress to report. Did I work on the book all weekend? Yes. Do I have 20 pages written to show you? Nope. Do I feel like I have a new or better understanding of my next steps? Yup! So…success? Perhaps.

Recently, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the travel portion of this project. As my life seems to be getting more and more scheduled, I’m keenly aware of the need to start getting serious about planning my trips. It’s time to figure out where I’m headed, who I’m going with, and more dauntingly…how am I paying for this?

You might find yourself wondering why I feel the need to travel in order to write this book. Couldn’t I just interview people, or read about the conflicts from the safety of my apartment? Well, I could…but there are a few reasons why that’s simply not enough.

First, I see traveling as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the conflict situations I’m writing about, as well as the people involved. Second, I can’t very well publish a book that speaks a great deal about Africa without having set foot on the continent. There’s just something inauthentic about that. And finally, I genuinely feel that without seeing these regions firsthand I won’t be able to do this book justice. I won’t feel comfortable putting it out there as some sort of authority on the topic.

So in the meantime, I’m working on fundraising ideas. I’ve pondered all the regulars (Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc), but none of them felt right. For now, I have simply added a donate button to my site. You may notice that nice little PayPal donate button on the right side of the page. Do feel free to take a moment and click on it. 🙂

A Day in the Life – Anecdote #1

So, what does a day in the life of an “author” look like? Well, this weekend it included a pretty serious game of chicken with my printer. I’ve been trying to be environmentally friendly – as any self-respecting northwesterner is – but I finally decided that as much as I want to conserve paper, I just needed to print out the articles I’m reading as I research for the book. People mock me quite regularly about my disdain for e-readers, but there is just something about having the actual paper in your hand.


Punk-ass printer scoffing at my request for a few more pages before I replace the cartridge. Note the single “e” at the bottom.

Things got serious on Sunday when the printer decided it would acknowledge my print request, but would only print a single letter on each page (note the lone “e” at the bottom). Bold move, printer. Bold move. I, of course, have circumvented this problem by now printing everything in blue. I will give in at some point, but currently it’s Printer – 1, Corrie – 1. So, let’s just see where this goes in the next round.

Keeping the Peace in Juba (The Mantle)

ImageReading the various reports coming out of South Sudan this week, it is still difficult to be sure what exactly happened and what this outbreak of violence means for the future of the country. It remains to be seen whether this was a plotted coup attempt, or a retaliatory response that has escalated. What we do know is that in the country’s capital city of Jubaapproximately 500 were killed and over 700 were injured in a matter of a few days. Further, nearly 20,000 civilians have sought refuge on the compounds of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Read more…

Samantha Power: Leading on Atrocity Prevention (The Mantle)

Bombed_out_vehicles_AleppoIt was barely over a month ago that newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power gave her first public address as Ambassador. She chose to do so at the Invisible Children Fourth Estate Leadership Summit, speaking to young activists. Power gave an impassioned address to the young crowd, calling on their new breed of activism.

“…we need your positive moral vision more than ever.

We need your vision of justice to win over those who fear it.

We need your vision of freedom to overwhelm those who rely on repression.

We need your vision of equality and tolerance to overcome those who propagate division and terror.

And we need you to act so that that vision – your vision – prevails.” <Read more…>

Drones in the Name of Civilian Protection (The Mantle)

DroneFrom surveillance tool to weapon of war, drones have quickly captured the attention of the world. Most notably used by the U.S. military in Pakistan as a part of the “War on Terror”, many have come to only see the violent side of this technology. In some circles, the word drone has become synonymous with civilian casualties. With the number of civilian deaths, it is hard to argue against this view. However, drones (orUnmanned Aerial Vehicles as some would prefer to call them) serve many purposes beyond the “War on Terror”. One potential purpose is their use in the context of civilian protection. The international community has long struggled to successfully protect civilians in harms way, even with the establishment of the Responsibility to Protect(R2P). The struggle to move from theory to practice continues, and human rights advocates are looking for new tools. For some, drones have enormous potential. Read more…