A baby boy turned to flotsam. Washed up on the shore, face down in the mud. His family, refugees from Syria’s civil war, had tried to reach Greece, but their over-crowded raft overturned in the Mediterranean Sea and he drowned along with his brother and mother. The viral image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless little body on a Turkish beach has shaken the conscience of the West and wrenched America’s attention to the refugee crisis now rocking Europe.
Newsflash to the oblivious citizenry of the power-projecting “free world”: this is what war looks like. This times ten million. That which is mere “foreign policy” to you and your government is desperation and death to those on the receiving end of it.
Children just as innocent and precious as Aylan are being driven into the sea in Libya, incinerated by drone in Pakistan, or starved to death in Yemen all the time, and it is all on your dime. And every single instance creates a sight just as achingly forlorn and horrifically tragic as the one above, even if it isn’t photographed and seen by millions.
Aylan drowned in the arms of his father, who had been desperately trying to keep his head above water. The prelude to the disaster probably looked something like this photo of another Syrian refugee family.
It actually shows an arrival and not a departure. Still, especially for anyone with young children, the picture is a punch in the gut. It only takes a shred of empathy to instantly imagine how the father must feel. Overwhelmed and near the end of his rope. His daughter’s arms wrapped around his neck. His son’s face buried in his chest. Both looking to him for protection and provision he ultimately might not be able to give. It is no wonder this visceral photograph has also gone viral.
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