What is his name? I imagine he was fairly naughty at times but probably did not get the chance to be really naughty and play pranks on his friends because his family had to flee his country Syria. They fled because someone armed the Free Syrian Army to take on a dictator and his ruling elite. Or because an evil phenomenon called ISIS was sweeping the country in the wake of the vacuum created from the devastation of Iraqi society through wanton bombing in an illegal war that left hundreds of thousands dead and millions more without the semblance of a country. What are the names of all the other faceless children that die from conflict across the world?
As his parents made the decision, were forced to make the decision to flee, he would have been both curious and afraid; curious about where all these people around him were walking to and why it was taking so long to get there. He would have been afraid, perhaps a little excited, of the massive body of water that lay before him after an arduous trip. He would have seen the desperation, exhaustion, incomprehension and fear in his parents’ eyes as they trudged ever forward, negotiating this and that with people speaking a different language from his. He probably would have stopped playing at that point. He most likely would have been really scared, maybe sea sick who knows for how long? He may have had a glimmer of hope as the adults on the boat sounded a little cheerful as they sighted land and then confused as cries went up when this strange vessel he was in capsized.
He certainly would not have heard some of the most powerful politicians in the world warning their societies about being “swamped” by migrants.
The death, by drowning, of this little boy, this human being, has exposed our world that in so-called modern times watches precision bombing of communities, real people, on the 8 o clock news. We watch documentaries on the weapons of desert Storm! It has exposed a world that will want to move on to the next topic on social media because some celebrity will have posted a naked picture of themselves in the morning. It exposes the lie that we are a modern society when we allow a few bad men and women, actually the proper word is evil, to play geo-political chess with our lives from Ukraine to Uganda, Caracas to Cairo. For all the progress we have made, this death reflects our collective failure as a global human society to find a better way to deal with repressive regimes and those who aid and abet them. We have failed to hold our governments to account on a universal standard of justice, instead letting so-called realpolitik trample the rights of human beings underfoot from Cote D’Ivoire to Chad, Gaza to Gambia, Libya to Lebanon.
We will mourn this child. We will hang our heads in shame for a day or two. Until the day we insist on and implement a new paradigm we will be back here in a few months’ time.
What to do?
- Demand reform of the UN Security Council today. Demand that it is more accountable to global citizens, that it is more creative in resolving global political issues of the day.
- Demand an end to this propensity to bomb problems away. Demand instead that regional bodies exert intolerable pressure on regimes in their spheres of control. Demand that political will be translated in to the kind of action that stops rogue leaders from creating or escalating the potential for conflict in their societies.
- Pursue justice. Make it absolutely clear, regardless of whether one is an ally or not, that leaders will be held personally responsible for injustices in their countries.
We are a common humanity. We are all human beings. How evil would you have to be not to give a toss about how others fare over there? Or have you simply lost hope? Each man for himself? If ever there was a time for humanity to come together and reorganise our political systems, the way we make decisions that affect societies, they way we trade with each other and the way we perceive each other, it is now. Today, not tomorrow. It is far more than a responsibility or duty; it is about reclaiming and retaining our very humanity and, for me, being human this instant is asking that we do all we absolutely can to end this human inflicted misery. In the name of all that is human, stop this inhumanity! It is time to remake the world and global citizens must lead the way by demanding and insisting on a new political leadership model. The current one has failed humanity.