A devastating picture made headlines today: the body of a Syrian toddler washed up on a beach in Turkey. He has short cropped dark hair and he’s wearing a bright red shirt, shorts and brown shoes. He lays on his stomach, his head tilted slightly to the side, arms at his sides and legs slightly bent. It almost looks like he is sleeping.
He was one of 12 refugees who drowned when their boat sank in a failed attempt to reach Greece.
It hurt to breathe after I saw it. It still does.
I’ve seen pictures of dead children before. I was in Beruit, where I’d just met a refugee couple with several children who had fled Iraq after ISIS attacked their village. They had just finished telling me how an ISIS bomb had killed their four year old son, David. Then the mother handed me a stack of photos. On top were pictures of flesh and body parts that were no longer recognizable as human. Pictures of her son. Underneath those were photos of injured children in torn clothes lying on beds, their bodies blackened and bloody. One of them was her nephew.
The world needs to see pictures like these. They blast through statistics and politics. Numbers and issues strip away humanity. These photos, as horrific as they are, restore it.
When the photo of the dark-haired toddler lying on the beach hit social media, it came with a hashtag: #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik. “Humanity washed ashore.”
I can’t help thinking that we are standing on the beach watching them drown.
Those of us who live in North America and Europe are in a unique position. Many of us abound in wealth, influence and resources. We have the power to speak for those who do not have a voice (Proverbs 31:8-9). We are Esthers with a choice to make. Will we stand by and watch a whole population suffer and die, or will we use our positions of power and influence to reach out and help?
Yes, it is hard to wrap our minds around the staggering numbers and the immensity of suffering. It feels like there is nothing we can do. But that’s not true. Talk to your church. See what the charities you support are doing. Check out the resources tab on this website. Learn about what the people in Iceland are doing.
Don’t stand by. Help them. Please.