Recently, a photo of a young boy has been floating around the Internet, bringing the Syrian conflict back to the forefront of minds which had all but forgotten what is happening on the other side of the world. He is covered in dirt and blood, and sits in the back of an emergency vehicle without shedding a tear. I watched the video clip of the incident and then stared at this picture for many minutes, trying to process what I was looking at.
I remembered being a child and crying over the slightest injury, looking for my mother to make it better. Now I was looking at a child who was so in shock over what was happening, he was silent and almost motionless. I don't know when we all became so desensitized to what happens to others in the world. No matter what imaginary boundaries we call "countries" they happen to live in, they still are people.
We label people "refugee" in order to create distance between us and them. We hide behind the fact that the region they come from has terrorist organizations. We let fear beat out our human nature to want to help.
The boy in the picture is five years old, and his name is Omran. He has a family, he has people that care about him, and he lives in a place where people are constantly dying from warfare. The civil war has been raging for more than four years, so it is a way of life many have become accustomed to. It's what the world has forgotten to take notice of.
I know that the real world is a much more complicated than we would like it to be. We can't take everything at face value and we need to look out for our own safety. But, take a minute to do the cliche, and put yourself in a refugees shoes. Think about what it would be like to be watching television with your family one minute, and be buried under rubble the next. How would you want the world to treat your little brother, your mother, your grandparents?
After reading this, I hope you realize you are lucky, simply because of the fact that you do not live in a war torn country where you have to worry about a bomb being dropped on you at any given moment. I hope you recognize that there are innocent people who want to do nothing more than just live in peace in the same place they grew up. I hope you can put your ego on the back burner, and realize that although the United States is a great country, that not everyone wants to use their refugee status to take advantage of our kindness.
People want to come here, and European countries, because they don't want to die. Choose to remember these images of bloodied little boys and children who have drowned while trying to cross an ocean to reach safety. It is a life or death situation in the most literal meaning of the expression.
You would want your family to be treated better than the world is treating refugees today. You wouldn't want to be led by someone who can "look in their faces and say 'you can't come.'"
If you want more information on what is actually going on in Syria, this article breaks it down in a pretty easy to digest manner: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868