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Young Blood

He didn’t even cry

/ 12:22 AM September 01, 2016

A child’s reaction to an incident can be most unpredictable. A young one can either be noisier than a busy street or as silent as the night. Either way, it is still not easy to decipher what’s going on in his or her mind.

Omran Daqneesh showed the world his and thousands of other children’s lives that are defined by war and violence. And he didn’t even cry.

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On a dark night on Aug. 17, rescuers were busy at work, hoping against hope that they would find many survivors after an air strike on the Syrian city of Aleppo.

A viral video showed how five-year-old Omran was rescued from a damaged house and put on an orange chair in an ambulance. He sat there, wide-eyed, looking around him and wiping blood from his face as if he were just wiping dirt. After a while, other children joined him in the ambulance where they seemed to somehow feel safe.

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Omran did not shed a tear. If I try to read his mind at that moment, if I try to see what he was seeing, I would think that the world is naturally and normally a place of bloodshed and death. Just like any young and innocent child, I would also think that guns and bombs are an everyday thing, so frequently heard and seen that the thought of pain these cause soon fades away. Then, while I am stunned with my wide eyes staring at the world, maybe I would not cry instantly, too.

Looking at Omran’s expression and innocent gestures, I suddenly forgot my personal complaints and the problems of many Filipinos. While we were busy with our own lives, searching for drug pushers and planning how our next six years would be, there was one child on the other side of the planet who was very silent amid his chaotic surroundings. Omran’s situation weighed heavily on the world.

Have people forgotten how to empathize with these children and what they are going through? Has their sense of humanity fled for good?

I believe that something worth having takes patience, hard work and passion. And something everyone deserves, like peace, has to take the same course. It is true that the road to equality, peace and justice is not always smooth and straight, considering our world with different ideologies, leaders, systems and principles of governance, and ways of living. Thus, our sense of justice might also differ. To some, happiness simply means three square meals a day. To others, it takes a lot of things, like money and power, to make life satisfying. Yet others think that for them to achieve an ideal world, they should eliminate those who do not believe or follow their own ideas and principles; for them to be happy, they must first stamp out the “other.”

Of course, not everyone expected that graffiti as an antigovernment act would spark the war in Syria. This juvenile art that is often ignored did not seem to be a threat in the beginning. But when the teenagers were arrested and tortured, it led to more antigovernment demonstrations and, consequently, a civil war.

Justice, or giving everyone their due, is an unachievable thing as long as terrorism exists. In this setup, there is no sense of a safe humanity.

Omran’s situation raises some questions: Will seeing more and more children like he achieve something satisfying? Will looking at photos of a dead refugee boy washed up on a beach make the people behind his death happy? If the same thing happens to their child, would they still think that war is worth it?

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No. The victims of the civil war in Syria have gone through enough. It is time to think about what really matters. It is time to realize that violence or killing the innocent does not and will never lead to our goals as a people.

Just like other netizens who watched the video of Omran, I wanted to go to him and tell him that the world is more than just explosions and blood on his face. I wanted to show him that he deserves so much more than seeing destruction first-hand. I felt an urge to lead him to a happy childhood.

Baby, this world is hard to understand, and you don’t deserve to be at the receiving end of all this hatred. Nobody ever does.

Yara Lukman, 20, is a communication graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University and an editorial administration assistant at the Inquirer.

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TAGS: Aleppo, Omran Daqneesh, Syria
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