“What struck me the most were his little sneakers…lovingly put on by his parents that morning
as they dressed him for their dangerous journey…”
“Staring at the image, I couldn’t help imagine that it was one of my own sons lying there drowned on the beach.”
(Peter Bouckaert, the director of emergencies at Human Rights Watch, explains Why I shared a horrific photo of a drowned Syrian child.)
It’s been a busy few days; at work, at home. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve only JUST stumbled across this picture, unpixelated – although in that modern, osmotic way, I’d kind of absorbed the broader story, from cursory glances-over-shoulders on the Tube in-and-back from town.
And it’s very hard to process.
That small boy – I’m sure he’s now been named – could be OUR little boy, Ezra. The emotional volte face I’ve undergone in the last few moments staring at it, apparently mirrors that of the UK media: from ‘swarm’-screaming fear-mongers over ‘immigrants’ at the gates, to self-styled conduits of compassion, today urging Cameron to offer safe haven to those fleeing impossible circumstances.
Of course, it’s hard not to be made uneasy by reports earlier this summer, of thousands encamped at Calais, rabidly intent on ‘breaking into’ Britain. But what this single, horrific image does is individualise – and so, re-humanise – the suffering of thousands, to whose anonymous plight it’s easy to become numb.
Policies necessarily transcend individual people. But notwithstanding the ‘potential implications’ and ‘unintended consequences’, politicians will warn us about, surely we should take as our guiding principle the human(e) impulse – that as a country, we can and should extend greater compassion than we have so far shown during this awful crisis.