Mercy- A Guest Post

Sabra, Beirut, Lebanon. May, 2018.

Sabra, Beirut, Lebanon. May, 2018.

A few months back, there was a quote from the poet Mary Oliver posted in the little church I attend. The quote was a simple line, Mercy is when you take people seriously.

It has occurred to me over the past few years that we do not follow Oliver’s view. Too often, real people are swept up in abstract discourses, political arguments, and used as talking points for our positions. While none of this might be objectively wrong, there does seem to be an objectifying of people - turning actual people, their realities, their stories - into something far removed from their realities and into a portrait that suits our views.

This seems far too familiar in the daily news cycle and in our social media feeds. Our friends around the world in Beirut and beyond are not spared. Yet caught in the middle of all the rhetoric about the Middle East, about refugees, and what they may or may not be like, are stories. Real stories. Stories of families. Stories of individuals. These are stories too often lost in our chaotic and loud arguments about them. It’s time we stopped talking about people and started listening and learning with people.

It’s likewise time we start taking people, Palestinian refugees certainly included, more seriously. Part of what I love about Beirut & Beyond, as a supporter and board member, is that it aims to elevate stories that would otherwise be ignored. In doing so, we try to center voices that explain the reality of life in the camps, and in a fashion that boosts empathy and compassion for those too long ignored. 

So join us in turning down the noise about people, and walk with us on our mission to provide relief, reconciliation, and relationship with those in the camps. It’s how we take people seriously. 

Michael D. Stark teaches philosophy and theology in Denver, Colorado. He has previously taught at Colorado Christian University and Trinity Christian College. He aims to create space and freedom for dialogue for people of different religious, denominational, and political positions on social issues. Michael has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Judson University (2009) and a M.A. in Philosophy from Denver Seminary (2012). 

His academic research centers on existentialism and the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard. His work has been published in a wide range of outlets, from academic journals and books to popular magazines such as The Other Journal & Relevant. He is currently working on his first book scheduled for release in Spring 2018.

If you're interested in reading more from Michael, visit his website at

Suzann MollnerComment