Raging across social and traditional media has been the assigning of fault for such tragedy; it has been laid squarely at the feet of the global political leaders and the United Nations. Such accusations contain merit but are hardly complete. The UN can only accomplish what its member countries permit, and those nations have been in the process of reading the collective minds of their citizens. Their conclusion? There will be no real action undertaken, only a lashing out with angry rhetoric at the global bullies.
Which brings all this back to us - citizens. Glavin calls it bluntly:
“In the world’s citadels of democracy, there are no popular constituencies sufficient to the task of commanding our elected leaders to put their backs into the emancipation of the Syrian people from their tormentors … The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about ‘the Muslim world’ as though it were a distant planet … It’s easier on our conscience that way.”
There it is: at all levels there has been the complicit willingness to just let it go. The personal accounts, for all their horrific details, don’t move us to action - though they make it easier to blame the UN. We have been advised to avert our gaze and we have consented.
This is where our greater ideals, our collective dreams of a better world, go to die. This isn’t like Auschwitz, where full disclosure took months and years. Everything in the Aleppo massacre has been played out in real time, on screens of all sizes, and in parliaments around the world. But it’s also at street level, where, in countries like our own, there is a growing willingness to let such things play out “over there.” The problem with all that, of course, is that it’s only a matter of time until the fallout from such travesties will have dire effects “over here” - especially in the increasing masses of humanity seeking security.
We should take note of Clifford Cohen’s observation: “The tyrant’s formula for every genocide since the beginning of time: differentiate, divide, destroy.” Increasingly, the response of affluent governments and their people has been: “Decry, denounce, delay.” Well, we’ve waited too long and Aleppo is finished.
Many claim it’s all just too complicated, too rife with possible after effects that could make a bad situation worse. Perhaps. But our one big takeaway from all this should be clear: as the tyrants destroy with impunity, those progressive elements of humanity are decidedly in retreat merely by not acting. We must know where all this will end, and hiding behind our own borders or our angry rhetoric won’t change the outcome.