Why We All Need to Care About the Syrian Crisis

Somewhere across the sea a plastic, overwhelmed boat carries the lost dreams of children, the suppressed fear of their parents and the pain of many more Syrian families, individuals, and their country.

When we hear of these stories it is only human to feel empathy as we experience a stirred sadness within us that cannot be digested. We try to imagine the sound of their heartbeats unsure as to whether they will live to continue to tell their story on foreign land.

This is the reaction I would hope even the most disinterested viewer can at least share, and I have yet to encounter an individual that could look me in the eyes and admit that they do not feel something when they watch the struggle of Syrian lives unfold before the world.

When we examine the Syrian crisis more closely, we realize that the chaos is yet another one to document for history's wall of shame -one that generations to come will read, discuss and report on for a grade in hopes that, in the future, society will not stand idol and repeat its mistakes.

What can we learn from this crisis as it spirals before our eyes? How can we try to make this time different, and why should we all even care?

The answer can be given from various perspectives from the voices of those much more qualified in politics and human rights than I. From academics to leaders to lawyers to advocates, I know there are those who fight for the sake of humanity.

But as a 22-year-old with the power of social media at my disposal, I watch the endless Youtube videos aggregating the news coverage of refugees. I follow the gut twisting stories documented on Humans of New York where courageous survivors share how they were ripped apart from their loved ones. The tweets, the posts, and the articles are endless.

Suddenly, even though I sit nestled in a local coffee shop many miles away in a comfortable town in the United States, I do not feel so far from them, their world, and their pain. In moments like this, the paradigm of life --this division that society tends to create between "me and you" and "us and them" --shatters.

The Syrian refugees are not only mothers, fathers, kids, aunts, and friends from a distant land. They could be doctors, writers, engineers, athletes, business owners, cooks, teachers and the list continues. They are people of pride who happen to be survivors of a painful circumstance.

The truth is we could have been them, and they could have been us. A Syrian refugee could have been the one sitting at her laptop writing this article from a local coffee shop in the United States, and I could have been the one crammed in a plastic boat clinging to my hopes as the wet cold and dark waves taunt and tease in the night.

I am lucky that I must worry about my career, my education, my desires and not my immediate survival. And knowing this, I can't help but feel that it is a responsibility of humanity that if we are in a position to help, we must in any way that we can.

Yes, there are reasons from a political standpoint. Yes, there are reasons from a human rights standpoint.

But, as I look down at my phone yet again and stare at the images of the families reaching shore in need of aid, all I can think is that could have been me. And by the sheer luck that it is not, that thought alone reminds me that I have an obligation to help. We all do.

I hope that when future generations learn of the atrocities that have occurred and shake their heads in disgust, the Syrian crisis will not be cited as yet another tale of too little done, too late.