H.Chapman – August 21, 2016

       Omran Daqneesh       
  Image source: Mahmoud Raslan (as per Wikipedia) 17th Aug. 2016.  

Hard to accept but the reality is far removed from the picture we have painted of ourselves. The reality is neither this nor that but both. You can't have the one without the other. It's yin AND yang notwithstanding whatever the doyens of philosophy may say.

Take the case of the image above – what do you see?

You see yourself as you were many, many summers ago. You see yourself sheltered and protected and maybe even pampered by your everloving parents, grandparents, and others of the inner circle. You see the horizons of your worldview bounded by childhood innocence and ignorance and trust and faith. You see the unblemished love showered upon you by the firmament above you. You see the confidence of the earth below your feet.

It is because you see yourself gazing back at you that you react the way you do. You identify with the child. The child in the image is you. You feel that what has happened to that child has happened to you. You take it personally – you empathise with that child sitting there.

That explains the strength of your outrage, your pain.

So it is only natural that you feel that humanity has been shamed, that humanity has been excised from us "human beings".

Now take a look at the other side of the picture. See the volunteers who are risking their lives in a very real way to rescue the little boy and hundreds of others like him there. Night after night, day after day, they're hanging in there handling victims like little Omran and sometimes handling bodies that were flush with life just a few minutes before. And all the time they keep hoping against hope that the victim will survive the carnage, and that someday, one day soon, the carnage will end and they can go back to their regular lives. Remember they're not doing this for their friends and relatives – they're doing this for utter strangers (except for the one-off coincidences that happen now and again – and that only makes matters worse!). Imagine what they take back home with them from those sites – do you think they'll be able to sleep at all, let alone well? Do you think they'll be able to have a lovey-dovey conversation with their beloved? So why do they do it? The answer is because they're human – they're humans like you, me, Omran, and the perpetrators of this tragedy.

So, far from writing off humanity and its associated connotations, this incident, the countless that have preceded it, and the countless that are sure to follow it only underline the fact that humanity is alive and kicking – strongly!

END of story

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