The world has been rocked today with the emergence of this photograph of a drowned Syrian boy who had washed up on the shores of Turkey. The boy was fleeing his home. He and his brother were attempting to reach Canada where his aunt lives. The boat however capsized while carrying the boys to the Greek Island of Kos. The image has caused a stir across the world, sparking cartoons, hashtags, heartfelt obituaries and political controversy over the acceptance of so called ‘boat people’. I warn those reading this that you may find this image graphic. I have chosen not to blur or censor the image in anyway.
I have chosen to keep the image as it was. I feel it needs to be shown in all it’s controversy. I care not for lying and coating the situation in a resin that makes the issue easy to stomach. It shouldn’t be easy to stomach. You shouldn’t flick through this as one does the local news. Otherwise we are not fully addressing the issue at hand. The issue is this: an infant boy who was fleeing his home is now dead. It does not matter where he comes from. It doesn’t matter about his age or his gender. All that matters is that a human being was denied the basic human right that you and I both take for granted every second. We sit here sipping on hot coffee’s, browsing the internet and complaining about trivial matters like a slowly buffering screen, while innocent souls are being made the casualties of war, political unrest, poverty and discrimination. We are a generation, a society, a culture of hashtags. #HumanityWashedAshore – whilst it means well, it means nothing. What have we done so far to help those in the same soggy shoes as the boy? Did we cause this? Why does this situation feel so oddly similar?
Let me take you back to the 1940’s. As you should be aware by now, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were not only creating and battling in a world war but also killing Jews in what we call the Holocaust at the speed a factory produces in demand goods. The allies had the ability to bomb both the train lines that carried the supplies to the German army but also the train lines that carried innocent human souls to literal death camps. Now, what did we do? We bombed both! right? Nope! We did not. We carried on with the war, knowing full well the Nazi’s were sending Jews into gas chambers, death marches, labour camps and even lining them up, one by one and shooting them dead. The bodies of an estimated figure of 6 million Jews fell to the hands of the Nazis. We were well aware of the atrocities going on across camps in the third reich and yet we never touched a single railway line. That’s indifference. That indifference is still in full force, this time not towards victims of the Holocaust but little infants just like the boy who washed up on the shore. The same boy whom you wrote a heartfelt tweet about this morning. There are millions more of him holding on to their own boat praying that the next wave that hits won’t kill them.
By all means, write that tweet. Do whatever you feel compelled to do once reading his story. However, do not sit back and wait for the favourites, the comments, the retweets and reblogs and sit there proudly as your hashtag ‘HumanityWashedAshore’ collects them and does all the work. Your actions are just as hollow and meaningless as it is to consider bombing that train line to Treblinka. How many deaths must there be before we as a society finally decide to reach out our hand and save the boy drowning in the sea?