When I picture the Earth in my mind’s eye, I often get the geographical locations of countries muddled. Whereas I have other talents, remembering bordering countries has always eluded me. So I often go to Google Maps to remind myself. When I do that, I’m reminded how close Europe is to countries whose daily existences are torn apart by war and dissidence. This saddens me.
People are highlighting the lack of media coverage for the bombings in Bagdad and Istanbul and the fact that Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought in over 60 years.[i] While it’s on people’s social media and we’re having conversations about it, deep down we know it’s not enough. It’s how we categorise our fellow human beings. We call them something else to distance ourselves. Like the word ‘refugee’ for example. When we read stories about the ‘refugee’ child that was found on a beach, it classifies that child differently in our brains. What we really should be saying is “a child was found dead on a beach,’ because that boy is so much more than a refugee. He didn’t apply that classification to himself, and if we could ask him, surely that wouldn’t be the word he would use to describe himself.
Certainly, I’m not the first person to say this and I won’t be the last, but it’s important for me to state my position. That ‘refugee’ was a human. A citizen of Earth, whose fellow citizens failed them, and we are still failing them. What are we doing? Why are we so quick to separate Europe from the Middle East or African nations?
If you’ve never done this. Go to Google Maps, and just see how close Iraq is to Europe. In an age where 1 in 4 Irish shoppers buy from China,[ii] which is a distance of about 8150 kilometers from Ireland, Iraq is closer at around 6010 kilometers. We’ve watched so much media filtered from the U.S.A that Iraq feels much further away. (Bearing in mind that New York is about 4900 kilometers away from us here in Ireland and Los Angeles is 8190 kilometers.
So the only way for me to understand is to read as much of the media coverage from Bagdad, Istanbul, and Ethiopia as possible, in order to picture myself there, and honestly, it’s terrifying. People in Bagdad are struggling to find their loved ones, and some will have to wait for the confirmation from DNA for conclusive identification. An article from CNN highlighted an important point[iii], death is death. The sadness and pain is felt the same way, and just as powerfully each time it happens. We cannot say death is less painful, or passively cross it off as business as usual because of where it has happened. People are losing their loved ones.
There’s a growing ISIS presence in Turkey and the Ataturk airport bombings are just one example of how scared people must feel living their daily lives. There are pictures and flowers in the airport remembering those who died in the attack, yet business resumes.
I wish I could help, comfort those who are in dire need right now, and I know that isn’t possible. All I can hope to accomplish is continuing to spread the already important message: all lives matter. The more we distance ourselves and protect our feelings, the more we perform a terrible disservice to our fellow human beings. People’s lives are being forcefully ended, we should keep talking.
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[i] International Medical Corps: https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/ethiopia?gclid=CNXHmfLG3s0CFZEy0wodRJYBfw
[ii] The Irish Times:
[iii] CNN :