I hated writing this.
I’m really sorry everyone. I know that I’m just getting this thing started, and I’m not really intending to be getting deep, but I can’t help it. I need to give this as an FYI before we jump into the post, because I’m posting something right below this that is really disturbing and terrible. So if you want to stop here, I’m totally ok with that.
Alright. With that caveat… let’s go…
There are lots of things that define me (bear with me, I know this sounds really self involved, especially if you actually clicked on that link and watched that video). I’m someones husband, friend, kid, brother, coworker, dad, etc. I have hobbies, interests, passions.
But watching this video there’s only one part of me that reacts. And that’s the dad. Maybe it’s because this little boy has the same floppy hair my son has. Maybe it’s because I have been spending the last few months overanalyzing my role as a parent, and specifically going over every single failure I’ve had over the last 3 years as a parent.
Being self critical has seemed like a really valuable, if sometimes debilitating, ritual. It keeps me focused on trying to do my best for my kids, without being too self righteous. I know that I’m not perfect, I know I can’t be perfect, but there’s always a potential to be better.
Then I see something like this. And I know it’s trite, but my heart just breaks over and over again for this poor little boy. I can’t honestly handle it. He’s a child. He’s lived through horrors already. He brushes dust and his hair out of his eyes, and as he does it, his hand is just covered in his own blood. And he casually wipes it on the chair he’s sitting on. Like it’s nothing. Like it’s just something to do.
And you know what. There’s nothing that I can do for this little guy. I can’t go help him. I can’t send money to him. I can’t do anything. I can’t. I’m helpless. And then I look at the video monitor of my kids sleeping, and I just break down. I love my kids more than I realized that I could love anything. And they are safe. They have a roof over their heads. They are likely never going to be in a situation like what this poor little boy experienced.
And yet, here I sit. Pouring over it, watching the video again, and again, and again. I can’t pull away. I can’t let it go.
More than anything right now, I am a dad. And I see a kid that needs someone. I see my kids in his face. I see when they are hurt. I see when they are sad. I see when they are shell shocked by some minor issue that they don’t know how to deal with. And I think, thank god that they are lucky enough to be here and not in Aleppo.
I take two things away from this:
1) Fuck every single person who is taking a picture or video of this kid. I mean, thank you for documenting the moment and showing people like me who are sheltered in our safe little worlds just how sheltered we are. But at the same time, fuck you for being ok with photographing this rather than helping. This poor little kid is sitting there ALONE. Who knows how much he’s seen, and no one even just sits with him to give him a hug and say, “I’m here for you”? I know, there are more important things in the world than one persons emotional well being, and this kid is likely already scared for life… but I can’t imagine it. I just don’t understand. I love my kids to death, and when I see ANY kid who is hurt or sad, my immediate thought process involves some form of, “is someone around to show the kid that they care?” Even if the kid is clearly being a little shit, is there someone who is going to give that kid compassion once they stop being a little shit? Hopefully that happened right after the camera turned off. I can only hope.
2) How many times do we have to fuck the world up before we finally stop doing it? This is the “Jesus, Scott’s a flaming liberal, huh?” part of the blog. I don’t understand why everyone needs to have so much hate. I don’t get it. I get that there are evil people in the world and that if they have power they need to be stopped before they can inflict harm on others. I get it. Logically, it’s there. But logistically… I just don’t get it. I’ve met a lot of people that I dislike. I’ve had people do horrific things to me, and I’ve done horrific things to others that I’ll never be able to let go. And yet… I don’t really hate people.
I feel like such an asshole saying that. It sounds like I’m saying, “Come on guys, I don’t hate anyone, why do YOU?” And honestly that’s a little part of it. But it’s not the major part. I used to think (up until about 20 minutes ago) that it was a character flaw. That my inability to really hate anyone was that I just didn’t have any strong emotional feelings about anything. If I can’t hate, how can I really feel anything, right? I mean hate is a pretty potent emotion. But I think (again, as of 20 minutes ago) that really, this is just that I don’t like the concept of hate. I probably think/feel similar things to everyone else out there, but I just refuse to call it hate to myself. I’ll be disappointed, betrayed, bothered, annoyed, disgusted… but these are all things that have the possibility of reversal, or being applied as a feeling for a moment.
Really it’s all justifications, and not something substantive. But it brings me back to this:
Is there anything that would make me think that what was done to this kid was ok?
What if someone had done this to my kids first? Would retaliating against theirs be ok?
My reflexive reaction is, no. Nothing is justifiable. I don’t care what you do to me or my family, I would never do that to a child.
I hope that I never have to find out. And that none of you do either.
And I hope that I never forget this horrific video. As much as it makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry for days, it’s important to think about this when someone tries to tell you about the virtues of strength. Or violence. Or apathy. Or nihilism.
Please, just don’t give in to hate. Whether you call it hate or something else.
I’m sorry for the heavy post. Here’s a picture of a piglet sitting at a picnic table eating an ice cream cone to hopefully remind you that there’s some joy in the world: