So. About Aleppo. About the city in Syria. Yes, I know it’s far away; yes, I know we have Christmas and Trump and road tolls to think about here. Yes, I know we’ve been distracted by the shitshow that the United States has become, and that is a big worry. And we have rent to pay, or mortgages, and sick pets, and squabbles with co-workers, and then of course it’s winter and it’s cold again. The nerve of it, getting cold. We have to wear scarves, and stomp our feet to keep them warm as we wait for that stupid bus in the morning rush-hour dawn.
So it’s understandable that we haven’t been paying much attention to Aleppo. Admit it. We haven’t. Trump has had us by the lapels, shouting and spitting in our faces, for months, and he’s a very large distraction. Everywhere we North Americans look, there’s a Trump-shaped horror show partially blocking our vision, like a big orange cataract. So many of us who are generally inclined to concern ourselves with the world’s problems – and to be compelled at least partly by a desire to help and protect other beings – have been negligent about Aleppo. Maybe it’s because the United States is both close by, and an easy target for our concern. And maybe it’s because we feel we Canadians have done enough. Admit it. Maybe we feel we’re already on this Syria thing. After all, a year ago our Mr. Sparkle Doll of a Prime Minister tearfully welcomed Syrian refugees at various airports across Canada. We were justifiably proud at the time.
We can’t be so proud anymore.
I won’t get into the details of what’s going on in Aleppo, but I can assure you that right at this moment, welcoming Syrian refugees is (although important) peripheral. If you haven’t managed to notice what is going on in Aleppo at this very moment, just Google it. It’s like an end-of-the-world video game written by some sadist who gives even-sicker gamers extra points for blowing up hospitals full of civilians. They are using chlorine bombs on civilians. You sip your coffee, they get barrel-bombed. You wait for the bus, they get shot in the streets while fleeing – while pushing their baby stroller and carrying whatever they could save from their homes, in shopping bags from the mall, trying to get across town while their government fires on them.
As of this writing, it’s changing by the minute – changing for the worst – and is little more than a slaughter. But we can help. We have to try. And yes, there are other tragedies unfolding in the world, and no, we can’t fix everything. So what. Stop making excuses for not helping, for not trying. People – civilian people, people who have rent to pay and co-worker squabbles and sick pets – are being bombed out of their houses. Their city – formerly one of the most beautiful in the world – is rubble. There are corpses piling up in the streets. Survivors have been using their phones not to call for take-out or to text a meet-up place at the local coffee shop – as they (and we) would normally do in their lives – but to tweet goodbye messages to the world. They are asking why the world has not come to help. They are asking on Twitter, fer fucksake.
And what can we say about that? That we didn’t know it was all that bad? That we didn’t know there was anything we can do? That we were busy?
Fair enough that we feel helpless. Fair enough that we think our government is looking after this (it isn’t doing enough). So let’s just deal with those two things: first of all, we’re not helpless. Money can help. So send money. Yes, you do too have $5 you can give to the White Helmets, or the IRC, or any of the other agencies who are front-line helping. Some of them have workers who are physically dragging people out of the rubble (true: look it up). So get out your wallet and give some money to Medecins sans Frontiers. I bet most of you have more than $5. If you do, give it to them. Buy Aunt Sadie a slightly smaller present and give the rest of the money to an agency. Or give all of Aunt Sadie’s present money to an agency and tell her that’s what you got her for Christmas.
The second thing to do is email our government. Now. You’re already on the freaking computer, so just do it. Here’s the link. Look up your MP. No, do not say that’s too much trouble. People are dying. Do it. Write the word “Aleppo” in the subject line, and say, “I’m horrified by what’s happening in Aleppo. Please advise me of exactly what steps the Canadian government is taking.” They get enough emails, they worry about their jobs. They say, “oh, look, Canadians care about those people in Aleppo.” And sometimes they do something.
There’s other things we can do but at this moment let’s just do those two things: 1. Give some money. 2. Write a politician.
This is happening on our watch, and we’re not watching. Do something. Do it NOW.