Last week, a 5-year-old boy graced the screens of millions of televisions around the world. His name: Omran Daqneesh. He was pulled from the smoldering rubble of a building that had once been a home. We watched as he sat quietly in the back of an ambulance.
Gripping video of a child pulled from the rubble in Syria
Video shows a child, bloodied and full of dust, after he’s pulled from a bombed out building in Aleppo, Syria.
He faces the photographer stoically as though he is looking past the camera, and into the soul of the American conscience. He sits as though he is in a classroom or at church. After palming the side of his face, he realizes that there is blood caking his skin. Hurriedly, and seemingly embarrassed, he wipes the blood onto the bottom of the chair. We have all seen our children do the same, only when they do it, it is chocolate or mustard. He looks back toward the camera, shell-shocked and terrified.
His movements are careful, subtle and yet powerful. Throughout the video, there are no tears, there are no screams to be heard. There is just an uncomfortable silence â€” as though we are being forced to confront a monster we had been unwilling to recognize for so long.
This is the face of genocide. In that moment, I donâ€™t see a little Syrian boy, I see my son, I see my daughter.
In that moment, it feels as though it is happening all within armâ€™s reach of me. Itâ€™s times like these where it starts to feel real.
We have become all too accustomed to the viral images that seem to catch the American eye for a period of no more than a week. A few years ago, it was images of gassed children struggling for breath near a Damascus suburb following a chlorine attack. For a while, our hearts were broken by the sight of a Syrian boy washed ashore a beach in Turkey. Now, we have Omran; yet another young victim to a genocide occurring throughout the Middle East.
For a while, it hurts. For a while, we feel the real pain as though it is happening to us.
But tomorrow will we remember Omran? Or will he become yet another distant echo? Will he become just another viral images we have seen, wept for, and forgotten about?
All of us, for better or worse, are wrapped up in the election cycle. Donald Trumpâ€™s antics and Hillary Clintonâ€™s likeability seem to be the biggest areas of concern for Americans right now.
But amid the political spin and the sound bites, will we once again leave images like the one of Omran to become nothing more than that of an old headline?
For a few years now, I have served as president of a foundation that tries to keep the image of victims like Omran in the forefront of the American psyche. But at times, even our nonprofit knows that people grow tired of the continuous headlines showing more pain, more destruction and more death in a region like the Middle East.
But in instances like that of Omran, or the little boy washed ashore a beach, or the young victims of a gas attack, we come into contact with a certain window of opportunity for change to occur.
It gives us a little chance to reach a tipping point, a point that serves as a game changer to put a stop to this madness. As of now, we have yet to reach the point where the American public stands up and says, â€œEnough is enough, it is time to act.â€
It is in moments like these where I ask all of you for your prayers, and for your willingness to confront the monster in the room. Now is our time to act. Now is our time to tell the world that we must do something.
This time, when young Omran stares at us blankly and innocently, I ask that we not turn the other way. I ask that we begin to confront the brutal truth: Without us, there will be no end in sight to the genocide occurring in the Middle East. It is we, the people, who must put a stop to the violence in Iraq and Syria.