The Syrian civil war has been raging for six years now. It has displaced millions of Syrian refugees. It has taken the lives of more than 470,000 civilians.
It has been documented on social media, so that we of the 21st century world can see how, even after millennia of human development, we have not progressed so far that children will not be targeted in air bombings. And last night, as government forces took over the rebel holdout town of Aleppo, trapped residents of the besieged city used Twitter to say goodbye to this life.
There is a monster at the helm of this unquantifiable, ineffable human suffering. His name is Bashar al-Assad. But I have taken to the idea of emulating the emminent Syrian composer Malek Jandali, who refers to him only as “the Dictator.” I too want stop giving his personage any more time in print. So my last name-check is here: I hope there is a just deity, and that Assad meets that Godself after he dies.
With Twitter awash in letters of goodbyes, 140-word final messages from “collateral damage,” my heart broke last night. That doesn’t mean anything, and neither does this: I want to say I’m sorry to Syria.
I’m sorry our government didn’t do anything to help you.
I’m sorry our world leaders couldn’t figure out a way to evacuate you.
I’m sorry too many of us here are preoccupied only with the latest blurp of asininity from our President-elect.
I’m sorry we forgot you.
I am not only sorry.
I am ashamed.
We cannot do anything now to help those trapped in Aleppo. Reports are numerous that, today, the Dictator’s forces executed hundreds of people, women and children included.
This is an atrocity. This is evil. This cannot be put into words, the depravity and sickness and loss.
So perhaps you too will wonder: what can I do?
You can start by calling your elected representatives. I’ve also been told that writing an actual letter is sometimes the best way to get their attention. (Email can be easily filed away and forgotten, but on its face, the manual labor of opening a sealed letter seems more likely to prompt some effort at reading the enclosed note.)
I want to speak to my fellow millennials here. Because we often think retweeting or reposting is somehow “action.” It’s not. Pick up that iPhone and use it in its now-abandoned original purpose.
Call someone. Call your House representative, call both your senators. Get out a piece of paper and write a letter: Dear Mr./Ms. _____. Then write down that Aleppo is unacceptable, and so is their inaction.
You can also donate to a variety of organizations working to help Syrian refugees, and Syrians trapped within their own country. The website Charity Navigator has a list of charities, all ranked to ensure that your donation goes somewhere trustworthy.
And don’t forget. Don’t let politicians who excuse the Dictator, his Russian backer Vladimir Putin, and any other ally of this sickness get away with it.
Don’t forget the children dying today because of our inaction. We have enough atonement due for forgetting already.
Image Credit: Freedom House via Flickr