Sunday, 21 August 2016

Ten commandments for the boy from Aleppo.

I dare not imagine a near perfect world. A world of intentional living for others. A world of self-sacrifices where unconditional love reigns. A world where the weak are protected, the old are respected, women are treated as equals, if not exalted, and the young do not lack heroes and role models they can look up to.

Such a world would be wishful thinking. I know that. My imagination does not fly me that far. My wings are clipped. I am not a head-in-the-sand optimist.

I am nevertheless a hopeful realist. And I do sometimes dream of a world a couple of notches down on the idealism scale. It is a world somewhere in the middle, hovering steadily above the barbarity and below a certain paradise. It is a world where expectations can still fall short, disappointments abound, and dreams unrealized at times. It is a world where new lives are born as old ones expire, and success and failures are part and parcel.

I harbor no illusions of perfection and I believe in cause and consequences. Sickness will strike. Happiness fades. Tears will be shed. Death and taxes assured. And sadness descends. It is no doubt an imperfect world, but not a savage one.

Yet, however imperfect, I cannot imagine a world that falls way below the steady middle where babies are mindlessly murdered and forgotten, young boys are mechanically trained to kill and disposed, young girls are mercilessly sold to slavery and abused, mothers are brutally raped in the name of religion, and fathers are cruelly tortured to death and burnt.

There are indeed limits to my imagination to dare venture into the realm of perfection, but never am I able to imagine a world where our protectors become our enemy, our elected leaders masquerade as our torturer, and our trusted custodians disguised as our betrayer. It’s a mind-boggling world to say the least. 

Alas, it is a world that is no different from a world of predators where we live for nothing but the hunt, where we pursue no higher goals than to satisfy our baser instincts, and where we care for no one else but ourselves. It is a world completely devoid of love, hope and joy.

Does human depravity not hit rock bottom? Is there no evil that is beyond our reach?

The Aleppo boy ("Omran Daqneesh") reminds me of how perilously close we are to such a world – if we have not already arrived. In Omran's hometown alone, 4500 children had died, and in the past five years of the Syrian civil war, 250,000 people have lost their lives. In the picture, Omran was in a state of utter shock as he was pulled out of the bombed rubble and he shed no tears. He was still coming to terms with the madness. In fact, he appeared more embarrassed and self-conscious than in pain and sorrow. While the bomb had hit his home and family, the reality of the chaos has yet to hit him. Soon it will.

While a perfect world is unattainable, a savage one where kids have no room for travailing tears but only paralyzed fears is truly unthinkable. And however unimaginable it is, such a world makes an absolute mockery of everything we have achieved thus far, that is, the so-called enlightenment we have attained and the modern civilization we are so proud of.

So, we can boast of many things. We can stand tall at the pinnacle of our own inventions, discoveries and innovations. We can brag to others about how far we have come in our learning and institutions. However, if we can’t keep our children safe, protect them from harm and preventable death, provide them with an environment of love and nurture to grow and mature, set an example in words and deeds for them to follow, and give them hope of a brighter tomorrow, then all our accomplishments in this world – be it material, technological, artistic and architecture - means nothing and amounts to nothing. We would have been no different from the savage animals that we so shamelessly pontificate against. And we would have failed humanity as a whole right from the start.

Let me end with the ten commandments for the little Aleppo boy, Omran, (and many war-ravaged victims like him):-

1) Thou shalt not forget me (I want to live too).

2) Thou shalt not make war at my expense.

3) Thou shalt not hide behind the name of democracy when it is all about self-preservation and greed.

4) Remember how thou have taken our parents away, and leaving us defenceless, orphans, rejected refugees and sold to slavery.

5) Honor thy words and don't wax lyrical in the international media just to further thine agenda. We don't need your sympathy or pledges. We need your help.

6) Thou shalt not kill to silence the voices of truth or mute the courage of the few.

7) Thou shalt not commit acts of hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

8) Thou shalt not steal to fatten thyself and leave thousands hungry, homeless and dying. 

9) Thou shalt not bear grudges and pursue vengeance and forget how many innocent lives like mine have to suffer just because thou can't resolve thine own differences or thine ego is just too ginormous to man up and take responsibility.

10) Thou shalt not covet after fame, fortune and power by selling thy humanity or conscience to the highest bidder. Leaders, please grow up soon so that we may have a chance to live.


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