refugee

How Do I Mourn What’s Happening in Syria from My Privileged Perch?

IRAQI FREEDOM

A car bombing in South Baghdad, Iraq.

The other day while I was getting Botox, children were gassed to death in Syria.

Then, while I spent the rest of that evening googling the best anti-fog sunglasses, and debating switching from an Apple Watch to a Garmin, a father held his dead twins.

I saw their picture on CNN the next day. I clicked away, took a deep breath and returned to the image. The toddler looked like mine; he had strawberry blonde hair.

I’m deep in the trenches of the first world. Very, very deep. I know it and own it. There are days when I feel grateful, days when I feel guilty and days when I feel downright ashamed; because my privilege is indeed a perverse existence, and it’s the only one I have ever known.

Poor me. It’s so hard to process what happened in Syria, the other day, and I don’t feel more grateful about my life, just more anxious. Poor. Privileged. Me. Because I had to ask my doctor to up my scripts, just so I can sleep at night.

So, like many of us do, I get online and donate to some relief fund. That’ll make it better? Then it’ll be ok if I go on my run tomorrow morning and post a selfie on Facebook? Then I can act like it’s all back to normal, and worry about where we’re going to brunch?

I don’t know the correct formula for processing this horror, for mourning the dead twins and so many other innocents lost. I don’t know how to make it right, how – during a time when children are massacred – to feel and be less obnoxious, to handle the juxtapositions that make our normal lives seem totally perverse.

I don’t know how to end this article with a conclusion that makes anyone feel better, or offers perspective on how obscenely lucky we are, and how we should take advantage of that. I don’t know how to stop feeling like a bystander when that’s exactly what I am.

But the one thing I do know is this: when our President made the decision to strike Syria last night, he claimed he did so because he was “moved” by the pictures, and newspaper headlines ate it up, while pundits called him “presidential.”

I don’t buy it. If he’s really so moved, why won’t he let people like me help people like them? Why won’t he let Syrian refugees into this country? Why won’t he put all his resources into attempting to find political solutions, versus violent ones that may kill more children?

We need to demand that this status quo changes. We need to keep applying the pressure, on ourselves and our government, and asking these questions every damn day. We need to continue to show up, to protest and to resist a world order that values profit and power over the lives of children. Over and over again.

This is what we can work on here, deep in the trenches of the first world. This is the only thing that will make our lives less obnoxious.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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