No doubt, you’ve seen the image that broke hearts around the world this past week. The picture of young Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach in Turkey has awakened the world to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and to the desperate attempts by so many of its citizens to escape and start a new life in another country.
It’s not surprising — and entirely understandable — that many Syrians are blaming the world for the civil war going on in Syria, and for the fact the extremist terrorist organization that dubs itself the “Islamic State” hasn’t been defeated yet.
It’s not like the world hasn’t been trying to wipe out the terrorist organization, but the government of Syria is another matter. As a Globe and Mail report points out: “It’s appalling that the world has stood back and watched a political regime systemically wipe out vast swaths of its population in the name of power; and yet, that is precisely what has happened. … the Assad regime is responsible for far, far more Syrian deaths than the extremist organization we are trying to destroy. (Eight times as many, in fact, according to many estimates). And yet, the Western world has allowed this monster to carry out the extermination of his people unabated – ostensibly because it is worried what Russia might say.”
Of course, it’s wrong to generalize and blame everyone in the Western world. It’s not your fault. It’s not mine. The average person is powerless to do anything about the atrocities going on in Syria or anywhere else. And we are powerless to help refugees from Syria and other nations if our countries don’t let them in.
So, who to blame? Well, certain politicians, no doubt. But mostly, the individuals who are committing the actual atrocities, and those profiting from them. The death of Aylan Kurdi, his brother, his mother and the others who died after their dinghy capsized in the Aegean Sea can be directly blamed on the human smugglers who had been paid to take them to the Greek island of Kos. The deaths can be blamed on the Syrian regime, and on so-called “Islamic State” terrorists filled with bloodlust. And then there’s Aylan’s father, who made the decision to take his family on a risky voyage in a dinghy . . .
But the photo of Aylan’s limp body on the beach has “galvanized the world’s attention on the humanitarian crisis,” the aforementioned Globe and Mail report says.
Well, some of the world, anyway, particularly the media — which are doing what they should be doing. They should be splashing this on front pages, they should be crying out to governments to allow more refugees into our countries. They should be telling politicians to do more to stop all the fighting, and to make the world a peaceful place.
But, you know, in a couple of weeks, this won’t be on the front pages anymore. And like so many humanitarian crises unfolding every day around the world, it will slip out of our collective consciousness — and conscience.
Because, at the end of the proverbial day, the death of this 3-year-old child reminds us all that we live in a world filled with atrocities and grief — and that there is very little any of us can do about it.
It’s not like we common folks in the West haven’t been singing songs for peace and love since the 1960s. It’s not like we haven’t pleaded with our politicians to use their influence around the world. It’s not like our media haven’t pleaded over and over and over again for a sane world.
It’s not like we haven’t been trying to change the world.
It’s just not working . . . and I don’t know what we can do about it anymore.