These are the words of a father who had just lost his two sons and his wife.
This week we all saw the horrific images of the lifeless body of little Aylan Kurdi lying on a beach on the Bodrum Peninsular, his parent’s dream of a life in Canada, far from the war in Syria, ending in what can only be described as a bitterly profound tragedy.
Aylan Kurdi and his brother Galip were born into a country torn apart by war, as are many children in the world today. As new parent of a child born in a stable part of the world, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to relate to the unthinkable choices parents in these parts of the world are forced to make in an attempt to forge better lives for their children, but one thing I certainly do relate to is the harrowing emotions raised while reading about them — like never before!
All I want from my life at this point is to help Murdo have the best possible start in his, and although I’m sure Kirsty and I will encounter some difficult decisions in raising our son, it’s unlikely that any of our decisions will have the catastrophic consequences that Aylan and Galip’s parent’s did. This brings me very little solace though, because while I know that Murdo will most likely be fine, I’m aware that many other innocent children won’t be — and that’s the problem for me, the children are innocent!
Becoming a parent changes you, and I hadn’t realised just how much your perspective of people is affected by having a baby. My current mindset revolves around the principle of everyone in the world once being like Murdo — a little baby, oblivious to the greed and evils of mankind, but ultimately affected by the choices of those around him. Becoming a parent has made it impossible for me to insulate myself from the horrors inflicted upon people who are trying to do the best they can. However, many people (who are also parents) seem perfectly capable of witholding any empathy towards desparate families fleeing war-torn parts of the world, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, being a perfect example, saying that as a father he felt “deeply moved” by the images of Aylan, but at the same time arguing that Britain taking in more refugees was not the simple answer. He, like most politicians, is heavily insulated from the policies he makes, and finds it easy to remove the human element from tragic events such as these.
It’s also very disappointing for me to read some of the attitudes towards these images being shared in the media and social networking sites like Facebook. Yes, they’re horrific and deeply upsetting, but they are more than just a horrific series of images, they’re symbolic of the plight of people in a set of circumstances we can’t even begin to imagine – and it seems to me that some people don’t even want to entertain any sense of empathy towards it.
People can ignore what happened to this little family if they want to, or are able to, but please just remember this if you do: you’re not better than these people, you were just lucky enough not to be living in the same place they were.