Photo of Bloodied Syrian Boy Reminds Every Parent of the True Ravages of War

syrian boyTo truly understand the horrors of war, we need to put ourselves in the position of the innocent families affected by the ongoing violence -- and a recent photo of a 5-year-old boy in Syria is forcing people around the world to do just that. Omran Daqneesh was miraculously pulled from the rubble in the rebel-held neighborhood of Qaterji in Aleppo following an airstrike that killed at least five other children, but the triumph of his survival has been tempered by the senseless tragedy of his suffering. Heartbroken observers from across the globe are being moved to compassion by the boy's stunned and bloody face, asking themselves ... when will it stop?

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The following video is difficult to watch -- incredibly difficult -- but that's exactly the point. Yes, this boy is in Syria, but he could be anyone's child. He could be yours. He could be mine. (Indeed, as a mother, I find that that's all I can think about.) The fear in his eyes is universal, and nearly unbearable to witness. Still, it is our duty to do just that. We must bear witness to this poor little boy's terrifying experience so that in some small way, he is not alone:

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Thankfully, little Omran escaped the attack relatively unscathed (while he had a head injury, he didn't suffer any brain damage). Omran's three siblings, ages 1, 6, and 11, also survived, as did his parents. But their apartment building collapsed shortly after they were rescued, so while they are certainly lucky to have their lives, those lives have still been (quite literally) reduced to rubble. Then there's the everlasting trauma of the experience -- how will Omran and his siblings ever feel safe again? How does any child growing up in the midst of a war ever feel safe at all?

Watching this video, one has to wonder if the many Americans who are against aiding refugees truly understand what these people are fleeing from. If you saw this child bleeding in front of you, would you not be compelled to help? It's easy to shut out the suffering of others when it's out of sight. It's easy to pretend that families in war-torn countries are somehow separate or different from us. But as this video proves, they are not. Choosing ignorance to their plight is more than cruel, it's dangerous. None of us are immune to this kind of violence. Any of us could find ourselves waking up under a pile of rubble in the middle of the night, not knowing if our children are alive or dead. If we pretend otherwise, we risk losing our humanity. If we pretend otherwise, nothing will ever, ever change.

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Look at this boy, then look at him again. Every child deserves a safe place to live. Every child deserves protection. No child deserves this hell.

 

Image via Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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