Monthly Archives: November 2015


Working on CoexistSTANCE

Tonight, Paris is Beirut. Paris is Aleppo. It is also Kano, Nigeria, too.

Yesterday I was Tweeting with the Syrian Civil Defense — the “White Helmets” — the people who pull bodies out of buildings. I was favoriting messages they posted. They were favoriting mine.

The new Twitter “hearts” were gruesomely out-of-place. I was not “liking” or “loving” these images. I was marking these tweets as important. The hearts were ghoulishly surreal.

I was watching video of the Russians who had dropped white phosphorus (WP) as an anti-personnel munition. A violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The U.S. did the same thing in Fallujah in 2004. The tactic then was called “shake-and-bake” — burning out positions with a chemical that burns its way through clothes, flesh, all the way down into the bone — that bombs didn’t work against. I was pointing out to the Russian government how the OPWC had condemned the use of WP as an anti-personnel munition by the Americans in 2004. It is still illegal today. Yet hardly any media outside of those of us closely watching the Syrian crisis said a word.

Also yesterday, in Beirut, ISIS had twin suicide attacks. 43 died. Over 200 wounded. People sneered, and even cheered, that the bombs went off in a Hezbollah stronghold. To them, the Lebanese were getting what they deserved for supporting Assad.

Day-in-and-day-out I’ve been monitoring these conflicts, from Boko Haram to Al-Shabaab to ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban.

Yet elsewhere the web was filled with fashion shows inspired by the Kardashians, or the typical Silicon Valley marketing spiels: “Is your cloud data secure?” I was attending a conference up in San Francisco. The talk about creating business community sites to debate benefits packages or to support brand loyalty sort of paled in comparison to what I was seeing on my laptop and cell phone.

And then, tonight, there was Paris.

This terror goes on every day. Just in places around the world not quite as familiar to us as Paris. Tonight, Paris is Beirut. Paris is Aleppo. It is also Kano, Nigeria, too.

For all that I am aware of intellectually and whatever I feel emotionally, my understanding is not experiential. It cannot compare to the day-to-day existence of a young girl living in rural Nigeria under threat of rape by Boko Haram, nor can I say I have walked the steps of a moderate Sufi cleric towing a very fine line in Yemen with Shiite Houthi rebels to one side, and Sunni Al-Qaeda affiliates on the other. Nor can I speak of how a mother must feel harboring her family in an Iraqi village under the control of ISIS. Nor can I truly comprehend what it is like to be a father crossing the cold waters of the Mediterranean in a barely-buoyant vessel with only part of my family still alive.

My hope is not just to witness these truths and do nothing. My goal is to connect with communities, with advocates, with organizations, and to offer them aid and to empower them.

If anyone wants to help me monitor and make sense of the ongoing sources of human carnage, and hopefully identify opportunities for changing the narrative and creating an alliance for peace, my project is called ‪#‎CoexistSTANCE‬ ( It is part of my work in

I am open to donations and volunteers for CoexistSTANCE to continue and expand our work. Contact me privately if you would like to help in any way.

Also, if anyone wishes to help with the Syrian refugee crisis, my friend Alison Thompson is bringing solar lanterns to help them have light in their time of darkness.

AL AMAL FOR ALL! One Light Emergency Syrian and Iraqi refugees solar light and supply drive

Twitter: @Peter Corless

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