This week I have had a shock or two. the first shock was the images of the poor three-year-old Syrian child, dead on the seashore which has affected me in ways I cannot easily explain. It’s not just a knee jerk reaction to something that every parent or grandparent dreads, it is more than that.
The photograph which some people have said sensationalises what has been happening in the Mediterranean now for months is the media industries way of selling more newspapers.
Part of the cynical media type that I am would agree with that sentiment, but the power of this photograph is that it offers the viewer no hiding place from the true horror which is that for the most part, we are individually powerless to help.
This is the first time in my life I have felt total helplessness, the dreadful feeling that I could not help even if I wanted to.
I feel deeply saddened that it takes something like this, (which has happened over 1200 times in the past couple of years) to bring it home to me, someone who lives in a nice safe haven that these people need help.
The help they need is not benefits or handouts but a safe place to live, so they can bring up their children in a place where they will not be bombed, gassed or shot at on a daily basis.
The second shock I have had is that some people who I thought I knew as decent hardworking caring individuals who without a blink of an eye are saying that is not our problem, we are overcrowded already and that they are only coming here to sponge of our benefits system. These people have broken my heart.
I am appalled by this viewpoint, as an individual I would expect that if I needed help then someone would care enough to help me just out of human decency.
My world has become a little less shiny and a little darker this week just because some people don’t care about anything unless it’s on their doorstep.
So this weeks rant is over and having calmed down little I have discovered I am not alone in thinking like this.
Amol Rajan, editor of the Independent and his team (who I have to say have hearts of lions), the people who were brave enough to have published the horrific image on the front page of the newspaper in the first place have started the #refugeeswelcome campaign. At the centre of this campaign is a petition asking David Cameron to accept that Britain takes its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe. At my last look, it had around 300,000 people just like me signing up to make a difference.
To David Cameron’s credit, he has apparently bowed to pressure by announcing the UK will take in “thousands more” Syrian refugees, but having a healthy distrust of politicians the key details surrounding his pledge remain anything but clear. These people need help now, not after months of prevarication that will ensue in people negotiating the detail.
The real disgrace is this whole sorry affair is that it takes the tragic death of a three-year-old boy and his brother laying on a beach to make us all act in a way we should have before the tragedy struck.
20 Replies to “My world has become a little less shiny and a little darker this week”
It is an emotion echoed around the country… Many of us are touched by what is happening… There is a natural empathy rising up now…
Peter Singer’s “The life you can save” had a big impact on me. It talks about how we would not hesitate to save a drowning child, even if it was inconvenient, but we don’t respond to the millions (literally) of children dying from poverty and poor nutrition. (There’s a short video based on this comparison at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGczdp0SE0c) As you suggest, the photo of Aylan Kurdi has helped to personalise the plight of many refugees: hopefully it helps create a momentum for change. Thanks for your post.
Its always the case that a picture saves 1000 words, Thank you for your comment
Yes. The story struck me very much that way, too, John!
Thank you I am glad it I am not on my own.
Thank you for having a heart, I don’t think many people have working ones anymore.
300,000 do, please don’t become cynical. lets prove the doubters wrong. x
It’s really hard not to after seeing the other footage yesterday from Budapest of people throwing themselves on train tracks and being beaten for wanting to live and the Syrian children saying that, “we don’t want to leave Syria, we have to leave! If you stop the war in Syria we’ll stay”. Children shouldn’t have to know about politics and the tragedy of war. That makes me feel that way, how can you physically force people to the ground who just want to save their children, you can’t have a heart to do that.
This is a complicated issue but people need to show some compassion. It is easy to judge these people who are in a situation they are not prepared for. I feel for all sides in this dreadful situation. Hopefully the situation will become easier the longer we keep it in the headlines.
Yes if you choose to look at it as complex then it is. Please don’t take my passion for anger towards you in any way it’s just that this has been going on unreported for a while and it’s hard to stay optimistic when I read things like this.
I understand your anger and I know its not aimed at me. Today our news is showing these people entering Austria and Germany being welcomed and supported by police and the public with open arms. It has restored my faith in human nature a little. I hope that my faith in human nature will some day soon be restored.
I pray that I have faith in human nature again too , but since getting to adulthood…,, it’s been quite the opposite. Maybe I will check the news as well.
But that link was today’s paper
Here in the UK tonights News from the BBC
Such an awful tragedy, and yes it did have to take the death of a child in order to get some help for these desperate people. It is a shame though that other countries, much nearer to them have not reached out to help them as well.
If you look at the spread of counties helping Germany has taken the bulk of the refugees. But as a country and a part of Europe we need to contribute also.
That image left me reeling in so many ways too. This humanitarian crisis is like the holocaust all over again. It never ceases to amaze and horrify me at how cruel, evil, selfish and inhumane politicians, business leaders, terrorists, people traffickers and all those who profit from the fear and suffering of others, can be.
But this is not a crisis that Europe alone must address. The world, including the wealthy oil rich countries of the Middle East, should be working hard and paying for a solution. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with sorrow and grief for the children of this earth that suffer from cruelty, starvation and neglect; what makes anyone shrug off the drowning, suffocating, crushing, hurting and frightening children for profit? Have we learnt nothing? Have we not looked back on history with horror at slavery, bigotry and religious extremism, determined to make the world a better place for all? It is so overwhelming to try and process what we are seeing and hearing and not feel like we are all going mad.
During the past couple of days the silent majority have started to mobilise. Groups all over Europe are gathering resources and are getting involved to help these people.
We must concentrate on the small things that will improve the situation, trying to find a solution for the whole problem is overwhelming.
Stay positive and spread the word you will find you are not alone.
Thanks for the comment
John, I was not aware of the photo until I read your post. Our new school year has started in Texas and I was completely and blissfully covered over in working with my students. I am also impressed with your stance and compassion on helping these normal people who are trying frantically to escape a horrible situation. It is so easy for us to say that it is not our problem. But it will be soon. Ignorance, want, poverty beget anger and violence and I hope that the late-dawning awareness of how tragic this migration is will bring some relief to these poor people. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for your kind words. Since I wrote this post my faith in human nature has been restored a little by the people of Germany and Austria because of the reception and assistance they have given to these desperate people.
Even here in England everyday people are raising funds and collecting items that people with nothing would need. For others to transport it to were it needs to be.
I am a little sad that i have lost a few people on social media because of my stance but I think I will survive without them and surround myself with compassionate people, luckily there are lots of those around.
Say hello to your students from us here in the UK and I hope you all have a great year.