As I read through my newsfeed today, I notice several of my friends (some who are more acquaintances, really) are perturbed by all the pictures of Aylan Kurdi that were flying all over the Internet. As someone who shared no fewer than 4 pictures of Aylan yesterday, allow me to address those of you who find this distasteful.
1) I’ve no idea if anyone shared pictures of Aylan in, for example, meme form. Certainly I did not; and I could see how such a use of his picture could be construed as distasteful. I didn’t personally see anything of that nature.
2) Each picture I shared was either the header for an article, a petition, or a link to email your MP, each addressing the refugee crisis. Most, if not all, contained links whereby readers could donate money or learn about donating goods, if they wanted to tackle the problem in a practical way.
3) The reason I shared so many different (4–is 4 “so many”?) posts on the subject, was so that everyone who wanted to, could chip in. As a member of one particular organization whose petition I shared, I could sign, but non-members cannot. I shared that petition for other members who might see it; then I shared the other petition for everyone else. I shared the link to email one’s MP because everyone can do that; but since some people believe that’s about as much use as talking to the actual buildings of Parliament, well, those people can sign the petitions, OR just follow the links and donate some money. The first article I shared, was about how to address the refugee crisis (as in, where do we put them) and I shared it first because it was the first article I read that addressed that issue, and I wanted to get started with, “Yes we *can* fit them in the UK, here’s how,” and while it wasn’t the most reasoned article I’ve ever read, it made the points well enough.
In other words, I shared every “practical solution” link I could find (I found most of them in my own inbox, rather than searching for them) plus a single article on how we could house a massive influx of refugees.
4) Some of you have made statements about how “you wouldn’t want pictures of your child used like that”. Well, I will tell you, as the mother of 2 children (aged 7 and 9) if they ever die under similar, preventable circumstances, I imagine I will post the pictures myself alongside a shot of me weeping over their caskets, if I think it will make one single person sit up and take notice of whatever tragedy robbed them of their lives.
There’s actually a long history of that; as Piers Morgan informs us today (in the Mail Online… I know, I know):
“The civil rights movement changed irrevocably in the ‘50s when a young black boy named Emmet Till was brutally mutilated and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and his mother insisted on a public funeral with an open casket, allowing the world to see exactly what these evil bastards had done to her son.” –Piers Morgan, 4th September 2015
5) I’d like to say that the above is why I chose to show the pictures as well as the links (because I could have just shared the links minus the pictures) but the truth is, I didn’t think of it. From the first picture of Aylan I saw, I was near tears; by the time I’d read the articles and shared a couple, I was actively crying and feeling sick. In that state, I didn’t think to share the links minus the pictures… and so I’d shared 3 of the 4 links by the time someone pointed out to me that I could share the one without the other.
And when I thought about it, I did wind up (may all the gods that ever were, forgive me) agreeing with Piers… I think the pictures do the horrific task of reminding us *why* we ought to care, better than anyone’s words alone could. That’s genuinely what I believe, and until I believe something different, I have to act in a manner that aligns with that belief.
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, I am rarely sure of the right thing to do. But if I never did anything, then I would *definitely* not be doing the right thing. People *did* sign both petitions (I get email notifications for one petition; on the other, at least one person told me they’d signed) and I think someone emailed their MP, as well. Maybe that’s not the overwhelming response I let myself hope for, in a moment of unbridled optism… but it’s not nothing, either.
And it’s kinda worked–my Prime Minister has, apparently, gone on record saying that we *will* offer sanctuary to more refugees, in the coming months. Even that wishy-washy promise is better than nothing.
Sometimes, nothing is the only thing I just can’t do.