Somehow I don’t think this post will be very popular. Today, I don’t care.
No doubt most of you will have seen the heartbreaking image of the body of the young Kurdish boy Alan Kurdi lying on a beach in Turkey after his family’s failed attempt to escape the horrors of Syria. An iconic image. One that may stay with us for generations, much like the image of the young, naked Vietnamese girl running in terror down the street during the Vietnam war. No need to republish the photo here to tug at your heartstrings. It’s likely already imprinted in your mind forever.
This iconic image got me thinking about how obsessed we are about them. The modern media runs on this fuel. Earlier this week it was Miley Cyrus flashing her nipple for all to see on MTV. This week it is a dead boy on a beach in Turkey trying to escape a crisis in his homeland. So what will we have? Crisis or Cyrus? Iconic images of victims of senseless violence or iconic images of people who are just plain senseless? Perhaps it is all just a form of entertainment for rabid consumers of internet images.
What makes Alan Kurdi’s story even more compelling is that he and his family were trying to come to my country, Canada. They were hoping to start a new life with his aunt. The system failed him, his brother and mother (who also died) and of course his entire family. Something about Turkey not fully in step with the UN regulations on refugees. Canada not able to help because other members of the fleeing family could not produce the correct documentation to qualify as refugees. As someone who spent months trying to secure a visitor’s visa for an African friend a few years back, I understand the complexity. I also understand why it is important for countries to have processes to ensure they are not unintentionally bringing in terrorists. Being a compassionate nation is complex. Just ask any American about Mexican immigrants. A hot topic for sure.
In Canada, we are in a federal election campaign. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the chattering to start about how our current government needs to do more for refugees. How, if elected, candidate “x” or “y” would fix things and open our doors wide. Shame on the other guys! Shame on Canadians for not caring more about Syrians! Across the border to the south, shame on candidate “x” for not caring about Mexicans! Shame on Americans!
Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus bares her nipple with no shame…and the culture swoons. Innovator! Courageous! She’s topped her live twerk or naked wrecking ball video. Miley swings naked on a wrecking ball while ISIS wrecks ancient temples, entire villages and people’s lives. Is our culture bi-polar? Seems like we can’t decide what to fixate on. Crisis or Cyrus or some other self-obsessed celebrity like Caitlyn Jenner or Kim Kardashian. While Alan Kurdi lies dead on a beach in Turkey.
Perhaps instead of getting angry and blaming others for what happened to that precious little boy it is time to look in the mirror. Let this be a wake-up call to a culture has lost its way into a forest of self-obsession.