Thursday, September 3, 2015

Aylan offers a glimpse into a world gone mad

On a long journey in search of freedom.
I was out and about recently with my granddaughter Bailey, helping keep her busy as her Mom and Bubbe did a little shopping.

We were passing a new store in a strip shopping center in our neighborhood when she noticed one of those wiggling promotional thingies that's animated with a fan, and shimmies about to attract attention.

Bailey, who will be two next month, is at that stage in her young life when she takes notice of everything. Her favorite phrase these days is "What's that?" So it wasn't at all surprising when she pointed at the rubberized thingy and quizzed me about it.

What did surprise me, however, is after a moment or so of watching it dance about, she lowered her head, covered her eyes and said, "I don't like!" She was frightened, a feeling I didn't know was yet even part of her emotional life.

I told her something soothing, lifted her up and turned her around; and in another moment or so she was smiling and giggling and asking me about a truck that was pulling into the parking lot to make a delivery at a nearby market.

I mention this little vignette, because it's what came to mind when I saw a photo of Aylan Kurdi on the web this morning. He's the youngster, only 3-years-old, who washed ashore on a beach in Turkey earlier this week, one of a dozen refugees, including his older brother and mother, who drowned after fleeing Syria and attempting to reach the Greek Aegean island of Kos.

Aylan was spotted by a soldier who was photographed cradling his lifeless body, a stunning image of loss that had me wondering just how puzzled, desperate and frightened the toddler was after being tossed into the sea.

There was no one about to pick him up and speak soothing words of comfort, no one to lift him up and save his precious life. It's an image that tugs at my heart.

It gets worse.

Another photo, snapped moments earlier, is a stark and melancholy portrait of innocence and death, a somber reminder that we live in a world that has gone slightly mad in recent years. At first glance the youngster seems to be napping on the beach, a slight figure at peace. The truth, unfortunately, is much darker, a bleak essay on life and loss.

And I think yet again: There was no one about to pick Aylan up and speak soothing words of comfort, no one to lift him up and save his precious life. It's an image that tugs at my heart.

We live in a country that is filled with gifts, freedoms and riches that make us the envy of millions around the world. So, at least for the moment, with Aylan weighing heavily on my mind, I find the constant static offered up by politicians and the talking bags of hot air on cable TV to be, at best, small and petty. Truth to tell, I think all the sturm und drang is morally reprehensible.

But I digress.

A little boy drowned this week, searching for what most of us already have. He was found on a beach and gently carried away. There are thousands more, just like Aylan, getting ready to hop aboard a dingy in search of a dream. Here's hoping there's someone around to help them all safely on their journey to freedom.

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