Ben, I love this. I love how you think deeply about issues that matter! I do think the rhetoric that “we” did not fail Aleppo can be a little risky. I feel invested in this issue as the org I work for resettles Syrian refugees so I get fired up about stuff like this, so hear me out :)
I think your message in saying that “we” did not fail Aleppo is totally valid in that this is a complex conflict that we can’t just halt as individual people right now. But I do really believe that we should feel some level of responsibility to the Syrian people as global citizens, and for those of us of faith, as children of God. I certainly feel the guilt you describe.
If you look back on some of the world’s worst conflicts, it often comes down to apathy of the international community. Rwandan genocide has been hailed as a prime example of this (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26917419). So while I do totally hear what you mean by this, I think it is also high time that the Western world and those of us who were born into privilege do feel guilt over what happens in other areas of the world. In my eyes, it’s my duty to feel this guilt. It doesn’t even remotely compare to the suffering of people affected by conflict around the world. I think guilt can be motivating — I know for me it is. I know it’s a grim outlook, but my hope is that regular citizens like us do take on the suffering of others as our own pain, because I think this motivates so many of us to donate to orgs that do good in these areas, elect officials that want to alleviate human suffering, etc. etc.
At the end of the day, I think we both agree that we all need to step in and do our piece of good right now. My main point here is that I do feel even in some small way that we should feel that “we failed Aleppo.”
In closing, a favorite quote :)
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu