If you've followed the news recently, you have seen that picture. The picture of a beach in Turkey. Normally, beaches are things people dream of being on. I've seen pictures of people photoshopped to look like they are on an incredible beach somewhere. Not this one. You know this picture. I heard of it on the radio. I saw it on the television. It was preceded with a warning about it. About how graphic it would be. I saw it. It was a picture of a little boy, lying face down in the sand as the tide lapped his body. This boy was no longer alive. The first thing that came to my mind was of a little boy I know. He looks similar in size. I imagine this little boy liked trains too. I imagine he liked to run around and tell stories of his life and explain how amazing his drawings are or how a bad guy is coming and he is Batman and how, together (I would be Superman), we could take care of the bad guy.
That's what went through my mind.
This little boy will never speak another word. This little boy will never grow up to become a big boy. You see, when you become 1-2-3-4, you are a big boy. At 3 you are a baby, so small. At 4, you are a big boy. Strong.
This story of this little boy made me sad.
The world is full of little boys and girls who have terrible lives. I remember seeing those little boys and girls, starving in Ethiopia, as a child. I remember being told to feel guilty that I wasn't eating all of my lunch or dinner and wasting bits of it while children in Africa starved. I felt bad about it. I used to wonder what I could do to stop children from starving in Africa so I could not feel guilty about being unable to finish my meal. I still wonder about it sometimes.
If you've watched that movie about human suffering, you will likely remember the children in it. The bit where children try to hide in the false floors in the ghettos of Warsaw, in toilets. And, in the only colour in the historical part of the movie, a little girl, in a red dress wanders through the chaos of the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto. Children. Suffering unimaginable trauma. You may also remember the child throwing stones and screaming 'Goodbye Jews'. Also a child. Going through what trauma, I don't know.
At the end of that story, we as collective humanity told ourselves never again. Not on my watch. Never again. Oskar Schindler was a special man. A flawed one, but he showed us humanity can exist in the middle of hell. I don't know that he would have been so special, had it not been for the hell he was faced with. Oskar Schindler saved about 1200 human beings from death. They estimate about 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. About 10% of them were children. Oskar Schindler saved 1200 human beings from that.
I am not expecting a modern day Oskar Schindler. We are not seeing Belsen. We are not seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau. Nor Sobibor. Nor Buchenwald. Nor many of the many others whose names I don't know. A part of me never wants to know of the horrors there. A part of me wants to know everything that happened there. To understand the depths of humanity's suffering. To understand the extent of how horrible one human being can be towards another.
We are seeing a similar horror. This little boy and his family escaped Syria from who knows what kinds of horrors. This little boy's family tried to immigrate to Vancouver, failed and then decided that it made sense to hop on a rubber dinghy in Turkey to make a trip to Greece. To escape. This was escaping from hell. These people actually did this to escape. To then hopefully trek through Europe, presumably to end up somewhere where they were tolerated perhaps. Where they were safe from the hells they went through. Except, this little boy, his brother, his mother and many others did not make it.
I feel a lot of things when I think of it. I sit here in a warm apartment, with the TV on, staring at my giant monitors so that I can write about my feelings. I have that luxury. I live in a safe place. I came from a safe place. So many others have not. But they are here now. So many more trying to come here have not made it. And this little boy, he died trying.
I don't know what the solution to the problem is. I am not about to go join the war against crazies. I am too much of a coward. All I know is, this needs to stop. I don't know how many people have to die to make this stop. I don't want anyone to die. I wish we could just solve our problems over a nice cup of tea. But we don't. Our governments don't. They use various excuses and reasons to do various things. Democratic ones. Autocratic ones. Failing ones. Governments made up of human beings. Many who have said, not on my watch.
So shed tears with me. Shed them for this little boy. For that little boy. For every human, small and large. Young and old. Who can no longer dream. Whose hopes have been dashed. Whose aim is to get on a rubber dinghy in exotic countries to escape to other exotic countries to escape from other human beings who have tried to kill us. Humanity is a little smaller today. If you are religious, ask your deity of choice why this boy washed up on a usually happy place, lifeless. I have tried for the past day, and I don't have an answer.