OPINION BY CHAMINDI WIJESINGHE
Bullets are flying, outrageous cries are filling the air amidst the loud bangs of guns. A protest for democracy will alarmingly escalate into violence while the world watches in horror.
Nine months into the fifth year, nothing has changed and murder, torture, rape and disappearances are now a recurring day-of-life on the soils of Syria.
Politicians and diplomats scurry to find a solution that will give them the maximum financial benefit and goodwill, while the death toll exponentially grows.
Ask a hundred different people who the real victims are and you will get a hundred different answers because everyone is aware of different facts.
There will always be an uneven distribution of information, as some things remain classified.
Just recently, images have surfaced in the media of shell-shocked children, toddlers, adolescents . . . innocent children, who have survived bombings in Syria. It’s not the first time and, unless this war stops, it is far from being the last.
Herbert Hoover voiced it perfectly: “Old men declare war but it is the youth that must pay and fight.”
People have been arguing that the younger generation doesn’t care enough to make a change, but the power to silence the voices and muffle the indignant screams lies in the same hands that declare war.
It takes a lot to change an evil you can’t ignore and often, dangerous lines get crossed.
Those who want a change are mercilessly tortured, or worse, brainwashed into believing what those old men in power consider “right.”
In a situation of crisis, the easiest thing is to point fingers and be angry at the people in power.
Angry is what we want to feel when we see the picture of the body of a lifeless toddler washed ashore, or fear and worry weighing in the eyes of a Syrian child who should be playing in the park.
Angry is what we should feel when we hear that children are not running with a kite string in hand, but rather from an incoming missile or a cascade of bullets.
Is that the right way? Is being angry, holding protests and praying the right way to respond? At this point, most of us are not knowledgeable or powerful enough to make an impact. We cannot even begin to fathom what these children have seen. At a tender age, they carry the pain of a century.
The only glimpse of hope is through non-profit organizations or those that want nothing but to give the children a voice and tell them that they have a right to dream too.
Yet, even for them, the road is hard. This is not to say that there is no hope but rather that when one life gets saved, five others perish.
Children are a future waiting to happen. They should be allowed to move, think and learn freely, enjoying the pleasure of welcoming the unfamiliar as they navigate life.
The only fights they should be entangled in are playground fights.
Sadly, while all this is happening, all most of us can do is offer the alternate universe children in Syria should be inhabiting in an article, in a conversation, sitting in the safe haven of our houses and coffee shops and hope that these words will resound true.
Maybe we can help this way. Words are powerful and words were able to overthrow tyrannies before.
Abusive governments were destroyed, rebuilt and remolded through words with power to convince people that something is wrong.
Yet, somewhere along the way, we have been convinced that we don’t have the power and that those who do have too much of it.
It is true but it can be false if we at least save the children. The “old men” can fight and kill each other without turning the children into victims.
“My house was burnt down. Everything was gone […] they create a human shield of children.” Hassan, a 14-year-old, said this in the story he told to Save the Children, an organization working with children in Syria.
The conflict in Syria is burning neither a city nor a country but a symbol of innocence. The conflict is burning this symbol of innocence to the ground.
Editor’s note: The photo featured in this article is courtesy of Reuters.