Their Lives = Our Lives

by Sophia Murillo

Since the mid 2000s Syria’s civilians and environment have been tremendously persecuted by an ongoing civil war and the ignorance of its government. More than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, over a million injured, and over 12 million - half the country’s prewar population - have been misplaced. (Not counting wildlife being affected as well.) 

I don’t criticize Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg for creating a platform where individuals can freely express their likes and concerns. In fact, Facebook is one of the social media inventions that has improved overall communication in amazing ways. Thanks to the easy access to all kinds of information, I found myself crying over the truth of our reality after seeing Facebook private group post with pictures of the most innocent victims of the civil war in Syria - the animals.

The title of this essay reflects the way in which as humans, we all have the same value. Not a single person is worth more or less than another person. Syria’s civilians had to bear the brunt of being born in a corrupted country, having to face death and danger for much of their lives. Nearly half of the population are children, born in the middle of a war. Climate change has acted as one of the biggest contributors to the conflict, as a threat multiplier and accelerant to instability. Severe droughts, water and food scarcity, breathing and heart related diseases - due to poor atmospheric conditions - and high infrastructure damage, are some of the primary issues caused by global warming factors that drove the initial civil unrest. These pictures, along with the ones portraying the suffering of several Syrian families, made me feel impotent for a second, but then, I realized all this power I own as a person, this voice I have rarely used because I’ve thought for so many years that it wouldn’t have any impact. I had to use it to fight for what I believe, for the wellness of millions of innocent lives. I can’t ignore feeling that I don’t deserve  any of the advantages and perks I count on as a resident of the United States. Everything looks okay, people around are laughing and smiling, we are all wealthy in a way. Our standard of living, even among the poor can be substantially higher than many of the poorest regions of the world.

What are we doing? What are you doing? Ignoring the problem is the problem. I might not be able to stop Trump and the U.S Department of Defense from take more military action against Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but that’s not necessary. United, I know that young people like me have far more power than we all think. We just have been discouraged, but the source of that discouragement, is what must give us courage to make a change.

There are several ways in which we can counteract this humanitarian catastrophe, one of the easiest ways, I have found is letting President Trump and his administration know that we don’t support his policy on refugees -“Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” which banned people from Syria indefinitely, and started a 90-day ban on visas for people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — predominantly Muslim countries. Another way to get involved is creating  a petition and encouraging students in your school to sign it. You can also pressure world leaders to provide emergency funding for education here, donate or volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, translate for a Syrian refugee, read and share their stories, and much more.

You can learn more about these ways in which you can take action here, and to take action to counteract the noxious consequences of climate change in the Middle East, getting involved with local non-profit organizations to stay informed and learn ways to get involved, is the first and more important step. Learn more about Earth Charter Indiana, an awesome organization I volunteer for, taking important action in Indiana, to learn about ways to fight global warming individually click here, and ultimately, check out this amazing documentary called “Age of Consequences” available free online, on Netflix, and Youtube. Watch it with your family or friends, and take time to consider how impactful your actions can be, because we can, because we must, because we are equal.