The image of a Syrian boy with his face caked with blood and dirt, the result of an air strike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo that destroyed his home, has haunted my thoughts in the last few days.
My first reaction was crushing sadness. This boy (I found out later he is five years old) with his mop of dark hair and long skinny limbs reminded me of my own son and as I watched him carried into an ambulance and placed on a seat I couldn’t help but think about how my own son would react if similarly woken from his bed by the collapse of his home in the middle of the night by air strikes from his own government. The boy touched his head and it came away with blood and he wiped it on his seat. Earlier that day he probably did the same thing with a hand that was covered in chocolate or banana like my son often does.
Photograph via Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
I said at first I felt sad about the boy. Then I became angry. I felt like the world was a terrible place filled with terrible people that were doing awful things to each other. It is difficult for me to understand the conflict as I hunch over my laptop in my air-conditioned home in Iowa. Why is this country tearing itself apart? Why does any group of people fight another? What would it take for our country to devolve into civil war again? A Trump or Clinton presidential victory? With all the vitriol and exploited divisions in our country, are we doomed to a similar fate? I hope not.
Then I watched the video of the boy from Aleppo again and my thoughts shifted once more.
This five-year-old boy from Aleppo had just been ripped from his bed by violence and with no knowledge of his family’s well-being, he sat calmly as a stranger placed him on a seat in an ambulance and went about helping other hurt human beings. It made me wonder if this was a large part of what made humans what we are.
Had we been doing this to each other for so long that it had become baked into our DNA? Was it a natural thing for a five-year-old to nearly die and then be taken care of by someone else from his city, his village, his group, his tribe?
I went back and forth on it for a while on what this boy meant to the world and what we are as humans. He was innocent but for his place of birth and the means for his family to leave. Or perhaps his family intentionally stayed where they were because of their belief in fighting for the good in their homeland (I wonder if I would).
Then I wondered what on earth I could from my home in Iowa. What could I do to help this boy and his family and his people and his country? I was overwhelmed with thoughts of helplessness. How many other boys and girls in that Aleppo on that same night were similarly driven from their homes? How many had lost parents and siblings? Then you surf on in the internet and you see Louisiana drowning. You see a terrorist drive a truck through a crowd of people in France. A sniper killing police on the streets of Dallas. An earthquake in Italy. And all hope seems lost.
Then you look at this boy from Aleppo and you see human resilience.
A resilience no five-year-old should possess or need to possess. Yet possess it he did, at least to my eyes. I think all of us possess it. We are people who have through the ages stood up for our homes and our families and our people and our tribe. At some point, we were one tribe. I like to think so anyway. One tribe again I think we will become. Today more than ever we have the ability to be one tribe.
In an effort to be one tribe I have found some ways that you can help with the Syrian crisis. Sadly as you know this is only one of the many conflicts and disasters currently going on in the world.
More About Francis Sparks:
Francis writes all types of adult fiction from short story to novel length. At the moment, the voices of the characters in his mystery/suspense and high fantasy novels have clamored their way to the front of his writing queue.
Francis grew up on a farm in Iowa where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture made of fallen trees, twine pilfered from his father’s hay baler and his imagination. In fifth grade, he discovered TSR/Wizards of the Coast and their treasure of fantasy novels. Ever since he’s been chasing the writing dream. His mystery/suspense novel Made Safe was signed by Pandamoon Publishing in September 2015 and will be published in the fall of 2016.