Friday, 1 June 2012

#Tippingpoint Writing for Syria

G&T - 2-and-a-half   M- 7-and-a-half months

I can't read it. I've tried several times because I know I should, but I can't read it. I get a few paragraphs into the now infamous Times front cover on the Houla massacre and I have to look away. The details of the horrific killings are just too much.
I didn't use to be able to watch animal programmes. There was a blanket ban in our house on Animal Hospital or Animal Rescue, for fear that a pet cat or dog wouldn't make it, and I'd be reduced to a gibbering wreck. But ever since I've become a mum, I've found it's the news I have to be wary of. I'm a journalist by trade, and I believe in the power of the media, in the responsibility of the press to tell the stories that we need to hear. But now, every horror story involving a small child just makes me think of my own, and my brain shuts down at the slightest suggestion it could happen to them. The reports from Syria tell of scores of dead children. Dead babies. Dead, mutilated babies. It's the 21st century. How can those words even fall in the same sentence? When I tried to read the Times article, I thought about someone looking into my girls' innocent, trusting eyes, and... I couldn't even bring myself to finish the thought. I shut down the computer, snuck upstairs and just looked at them all asleep in their cots, resisting the almost overpowering urge to scoop each one up  and never let go. But if you feel you can read about what happened in Houla, you should. Because we have to do something. We have to know. We have to remember. We have to shout. And we have to be heard. That's why I'm writing this piece, even though I'm struggling to keep it together as I do. Even though it makes me never want to let my girls out of my sight. When we're thousands of miles away, the only thing we can do is care. One person can't be heard. But what about a thousand? A million? Please, sign the Save the Children petition. Add your voice to the cry for change. Join the #tippingpoint roar on Twitter. Write about it, talk about it. Be enraged.
Suddenly, all my potty-training stress seemed silly. Celebrating getting a good night's sleep seemed so small. But it's not. Life's little victories are exactly what's been stolen from those children. All that's left now is to pray that their parents died with them. That they didn't have to live having seen them die. Those mothers and fathers would have given all they had to clean up accidents or tend to their baby at 3am. And they would have got stressed and annoyed too. Because it's hard work. It's stressful, tiring, frustrating. And wonderful. And we owe to those parents to live, to become exasperated at the difficulties and revel in the victories. And we owe it to them to do it all in their name.

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