Syria: Isn’t Anyone Thinking of the Children?

syria, children, photo, war, con

How can anyone look at this and think that this is okay?!? Image via REUTERS/Yazen Homsy, taken 8/2/2012

I often read something that makes me scratch my head and think that I just don’t get it. I don’t get why it’s so hard to be a decent human being. The conflict in Syria serves to reinforce that puzzlement.

On August 25th, after seeing some horrible images of the casualties of the chemical attacks in the Eastern Ghouta region, I posted the following on my personal Facebook profile: (Note: I keep this blog clean with minor ‘vulgar word’ usage. However, there are a couple of those words in this status. I’ve asterisked them, to minimize offense, but I have left them there in their censored form, because this was…is…something I feel very strongly about.

Last night, after a particularly…overwhelming day…as I gleefully counted down the days until the start of school, something I’d seen earlier that day pulled me up short.

There is a site you can see if you Google “Boston Big Picture”. This site usually has many powerful images, be it current events, nature, etc. I viewed a spread on the conflict in Syria.

All I wanted last night were a few moments of peace, free from the chaos of my children constantly telling on one another (the girls), chattering non-stop, and crying and whining (mostly the baby, but the girls did some too).

But those images came back to me. Reminded me that tonight, there are parents in Syria who have an eternity of quiet ahead of them. Parents who would give anything to have their babies, their children working on their last nerve. Parents who cling to every memory of tender snuggles, new baby smells, holding their heart and soul, their hopes and fears, in their arms. Those parents will go to bed wishing they were me and other frazzled parents, not because we live in a life free of the chaos of war, but because we tucked our children in bed last night, kissed them goodnight, and were woken up by those children this morning.

Suddenly, the aggravations don’t seem so constant anymore.

But please, go on about your broken phone, the latest celeb hookup. Tell me how pissed off you are that Ben Affleck is now Batman, and they didn’t even have the decency to make Matt Damon Robin.

I will try to remember the parents in Syria. The parents in nations where children dying of starvation is the rule, not the exception. Every time I feel like maybe I’ve had enough, that I just want to send the little crotch spawn to bed an hour early, I will make that effort to switch my track, to enjoy my children. Not just for my sake, but for each and every parent in Syria mourning their children.

I’m not going to link to that photo collection. I told you how to find it, if you’re so inclined. But be warned, it’s a lot of pictures. Of children. Like me, you will want to jump into that scene and will each and every child back to life, to breathe a part of your own life back into their lungs so that they can live theirs.

Raise your child to find a way for peace, so that maybe, just maybe, one day our descendants won’t have to live in a world where war exists. I don’t get what’s so f******g hard about this s***, really. We’re all humans, live and let live, stop fighting over what, ultimately, is dumb s***. Stop oppressing people. Treat others as your family, not someone beneath you, not someone for you to use and abuse. Seriously.

In theory, what is so freaking hard about that? Live your life and let others live theirs.

The faces I saw in those pictures haunt me. The suffering. The grief.

And I still don’t get it. This morning, after reading an article, I posted this:

Humanitarian aid, yes. Military intervention…in all honesty, I don’t know. On one hand, I keep thinking, the US is not the police force of the world and we need to fix the problems at home before we dive into the world’s problems.

On the other hand, I am also the girl who picked up every injured animal and took it to someone who could help it. And I can’t get those Syrian children out of my mind. Do we help end the struggle so that no more Syrian children die? Will ending the conflict even be a guarantee that the children will be safe? Do we just send in some humanitarian aid and keep supplying the rebels with NATO weapons and hope to whatever we believe in that it will all be over soon?

This really has no easy answer.

As a mother, and as someone who has always had deep empathy for human suffering, the conflict in Syria breaks my heart because no matter how hard any side may try, there are always innocent casualties in conflict. Knowing that often neither side tries to spare innocent lives makes my soul hurt worse. I am torn between the urge to protect innocence abroad and the urge to say “What about us? What about the children in America who suffer in invisibility, their struggle lost behind the media spotlight shining on the innocents suffering abroad?”

Sting once wrote a song that said “I hope the Russians love their children too”… it applies to Syrian children…African children…Egyptian children.

I just keep wondering why, in all of these conflicts, no one stops to say “How will this affect the children? Are we truly making a better, safer world for them, or are we just blinded by our own selfish wants?”

When the means are deaths of innocent children, babies really, do the ends justify the means? Does anyone truly stop to think of that?

For me, children are the driving force in my life. Nothing else I accomplish in life truly matters if my children suffer in the process. Children should be the first thing anyone thinks about before wars are started, before people are oppressed.

Children are the embodiment of the concept of innocence. Even the most evil people in this world were once innocent babies, who laughed and crawled and giggled. To abuse a child, to cause a child to suffer is to sentence our future to continued strife, unceasing turbulence. Even the childless among us hopefully realize that, within the children of the world lies the hope of the future, the promise of tomorrow.

Whether you love or hate her, Hilary Clinton got it right when she said it takes a village to raise a child. I was raised by a village. My grandparents raised me, yet I was surrounded by adults who all contributed in some way, be it by modeling the values and morals I was taught to have within myself, or yes, by showing me qualities that I knew I did not want to have.

I hear so many battle cries of “Where are the parents?!?” In some cases, these cries are warranted. But oftentimes I think in response, “Where are the parents? Where the heck are the rest of the people?”

Because as a parent, I can only do so much. I can teach my children to love all humans as equals, to seek peace rather than violence wherever possible, to value all human life, to strive to foster love, compassion, kindness, and empathy within their hearts. But I cannot make the world at large reinforce the importance of those values. I cannot stop my children from eventually hearing the news reports every night. I can’t shield them from everything. In addition to instilling admirable values and respectable qualities in my children, I must also teach them how to persevere in the face of adversity. I must guide them through the dark areas of life they will inevitably be confronted with, and I must show them that there is strength in holding fast to themselves as they walk, that though the darker parts of life may show them an ‘easier’ way, that the rewards are not as great as they can be if they continue to walk the path of light and righteousness.

Some people say it’s survival of the fittest, that the weak ones must fall to ensure the survival of the species.

I call horse crap. Might is not always right. As human beings, even if we have no children, it is up to us adults to safeguard our children through the storms of our world today. We must teach them that there is a better way. It would all be so much simpler, so plain to see if we just stopped thinking our ourselves and started thinking about our children. Not just the ones we birth and raise, but the ones we come into contact with. As adults, we are all parents in some form or another. No, it’s not your responsibility, childless adult, to raise my spawn. I can do that just fine.

I can’t, however, dictate your behavior in front of them. If you disrespect another person in their presence, I can still use you as a lesson. Of how not to be. And if you strike up a conversation with my child because you’re captivated by their childlike chatter, you are reinforcing the lesson I teach them, of kindness and consideration for others. The more people that living their lives in kindness and compassion, the more people us parents have to point out to our kids and say “See how that man just helped that older lady put her groceries in the car? Wasn’t that nice of him? That’s what I mean when I say be kind to others.” It isn’t just ‘religious’ morals. It’s called being a good person. Period.

It’s a shame we live in a world where we almost are forced to teach our children to fear.

No. I don’t believe we should be the ‘police of the world’. I believe we have a lot of problems here in the US that need to be fixed, children who need to be saved and protected, before we jump into a fray anywhere else.

But gosh darnit, those pictures of those Syrian babies haunt me. They haunt my heart. I wanted to give them all a piece of my heart, a bit of the breath from my lungs, anything to make their sweet little faces gain some color, for their chests to rise and fall.

When we as a species wage war, we don’t just kill ourselves. When we as a species have those among us who are selfish, who think of only themselves and never give a care to the world we live in, we don’t just harm ourselves.

We hurt our children.

A mother bear will kill you if you get too close to her cubs.

Why are we killing ours?


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