Another photo of another boy victim of war grabbed the world's attention. It shocked all those who saw it and drove many to tears.
The video footage showed little Omran Daqneesh shell-shocked, covered in dust, his face red with blood. He had just been pulled out from rubble of a house destroyed by bombs. It was one boy, in one city – Aleppo in Syria. But he became the symbol of all children devastated and forever traumatised by war. In Aleppo alone 4,500 children have been killed.
Omran Daqneesh was too shocked to cry. He hardly moved on the ambulance seat on which he was put to sit. He touched his face and then looked at his hands. He was so completely dazed.
Kate Bolduan is a very experienced CNN anchor. Disturbing images are not new to her. She is trained to control emotions. On TV she has to remain composed and objective. But this image was too much for her. She fought back tears. Her voice cracked as she said: “There are no tears here. He doesn't cry once. That boy is in total shock."
For a few days this image will haunt us. Then it will be replaced by other images. Omran will just be one of thousands of images that bombard us every day. He will soon be forgotten.
Yesterday (August 18), probably before Omran Daqneesh’s image hit our TV screens, Nicholas Kristof wrote his opinion piece in The New York Times. His op-ed column is an eye opener.
On Thursday, he wrote, his beloved family dog died of old age. He mourned his passing on the social networks. He received “a torrent of touching condolences, easing my ache at the loss of a member of the family.”
Then he compared this reaction to the reaction he received following another column he published on the same day. Kristof called for greater international efforts to end Syria’s suffering and civil war, which has claimed perhaps 470,000 lives so far.
“That column” he told us “led to a different torrent of comments, many laced with a harsh indifference: Why should we help them?”
“These mingled on my Twitter feed: heartfelt sympathy for an American dog who expired of old age, and what felt to me like callousness toward millions of Syrian children facing starvation or bombing. If only, I thought, we valued kids in Aleppo as much as we did our terriers!”
His conclusion is particularly striking:
“I wonder what would happen if Aleppo were full of golden retrievers, if we could see barrel bombs maiming helpless, innocent puppies. Would we still harden our hearts and “otherize” the victims? Would we still say “it’s an Arab problem; let the Arabs solve it”?”
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