That’s all I could think of to say in response to viewing the graphic video (I won’t link to it; it’s easy enough to find in a search on Twitter, but here is a response from the UK.) of the teenaged Syrian boy who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He lost the lower half of his jaw, you see. And he was alert and alive and ragged. I saw the video the same day I read the review of “French Parents are Superior.” I had started to think about some appropriate response to the parenting piece – you know, mildly defensive, mildly haughty, attempting to be funny. Other people did it better and more completely than I ever could.
But after seeing the video, and after seeing zero outrage in my usual news outlets – my Twitter-stream, Facebook, the mainstream media – I just felt sad and numb. How many horrific tragedies happen every day to children – either the slow, wasting horrors of starvation and sickness, or the violent, sudden shock of war? And all the while those of us lucky enough not to have to hide from revolution or war can simply pause the video or ignore the post or skip by the news segment to continue on our way.
I do it. You do it. Even those in the center of conflict do it to the extent they can. We have to, right? It’s part of human survival. It’s part of carrying on. Part of my carrying on included questioning the validity of the video – because why else would no one (other than specifically Syrian Tweeters and Facebook accounts) be reacting to it? Part of my carrying on included making dinner plans with friends and planning home-made valentines with my kids. Nice things that took the images from my mind for a time.
But exposure to these events ought to have some effect. There ought to be something we can take away from seeing a fourteen year old boy with a ragged, bloody face sitting on a gurney and waiting. Waiting alone and in shock for assistance. We ought to be able to stop the ridiculous nitpicking that drives page hits so effectively. We ought to be able to be thankful for the many blessings we have despite the many hardships and insecurities.
Because you know what’s really superior? It is keeping children out of harm’s way. Making sure that adolescent boys don’t get in the way of rocket launchers. Supporting peace instead of encouraging infighting and cat-fights even though it makes for good entertainment and advertising.
With the internet, we have access to an overwhelming amount of information and data and visual imagery. Is all it’s good for to feel like we know oh-so-much? And to feel oh-so-informed? The bottom line is that in times of crisis, we find out what is truly important. And all I know is that no matter how I discipline my kids or don’t, no matter what I feed them or don’t, no matter how many books I read to them or don’t, I would want to be with them to comfort them and make them feel less alone and less afraid. And that boy’s mother would have wanted to be there too.