Compassion is a strange feeling; It’s nice to have but it often makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s a bit like sympathy, but more solid. When I first saw the picture of little five-year-old, Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance, I felt the beginnings of tears well up. I think that’s a feeling of compassion: sympathy with heart.
The poor little child, stunned by murderous explosions, was unsure of where he was and, although injured, appeared unable to shed tears. Anyone who has ever known a five-year-old will tell you that they will scream their little heads off if ever they are hurt – especially if there’s a drop of blood in evidence. But for Omran the trauma he had endured blocked out what we would think of as a normal response.
I was saddened to hear that Omran’s older brother had succumbed to his injuries and died, but relieved that his parents had been found alive.
So, one child lives and another dies.
This is Syria today.
The photo of little Omran aroused our pity, sympathy and compassion.
BUT…recent reports estimate that 4000 Syrian children have died in this horrendously complicated and cruel conflict.
So, why is it that many of us are only upset when we see (in graphic vision) one wounded child?
Why were we so very upset, in September last year, when we saw those heart-rending pictures of little Alan Kurdi’s drowned body?
And, yet there have been THOUSANDS of people – including many, many children like Alan – who have died, and are dying daily, in Syria - and during futile escapes. (And, not forgetting Yemen).
We know the names of but two affected children: Omran, who lived and Alan who died. What about the other 4000 children? Where are their names? Where are our tears for them? Do we have to see pictures to prove that children are injured and dying?
Must we have pictures in front of us before our sympathy and compassion can be woken up? Perhaps we need to know all the names; perhaps 4000 children’s names should be written in our newspapers. With photos.
(Not that it would make the slightest difference to the warring factions).
Again to compassion: While the Australian government continues to keep hundreds of asylum seekers in ‘off-shore’ prison-like camps, the compassionate amongst us are begging for the camps to close. Begging to allow these people to be ‘processed’ and settled in Australia. But there is little compassion in government quarters, it seems.
Mr Dutton, our Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, has suggested that some Syrian asylum seekers (currently detained in Nauru) may wish to return to their homeland. He is even prepared to offer them money to do so. Does he not see the same pictures that we do? Of houses bombed beyond recognition and whole towns reduced to rubble. Does he take no notice of children being killed by the thousands?
Is he lacking the necessary emotional ability to produce compassion?
I suspect so.
Sure, I know there is nothing he – nor our government – can possibly do right now to stop the Syrian conflict, but…but…maybe helping those few who have escaped the horror to seek refuge here might be helpful (at least). No?
I accept that I am mixing up two huge problems here; the results of war in Syria and the lack of compassion regarding asylum seekers, but they are intertwined in my thoughts on compassion. Do we have to have more pictures of the likes of Alan and Omran to open our hearts as we wait for compassion to be aroused in some people?
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.