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Empathy shouldn't be confined to one's own country

February 8, 2017

Though far away and out of reach, events around the world are just as equally important as those happening here at home.

I am the type of person who likes to stay updated on what is happening not just around Minnesota, Wisconsin or even the United States in general, but also around the rest of the world.

As I was doing my usual browse through the latest news, I came across an article that quickly caught my attention. It was a story published by the Washington Post titled “Syrian girl who tweeted from inside Aleppo begs President Trump to save her friends.” The title alone is chilling, as is what the article entails.

When I clicked on the link and began to read, I realized that I have in fact heard of this young girl before. Her name is Bana al-Abed and she is known for documenting her experiences of living in the war-torn country. It’s initiatives like al-Abed’s that can make a person really appreciate the internet. With that being said, the internet also acts as a wake-up call.

It’s kind of embarrassing for me to admit this, but I don’t really know a lot about the war in Syria or the details of what is happening in the city of Aleppo. I’ve read a few articles about it and I’ve seen videos on CNN of buildings turning into rubble in just a matter of seconds, but I’ve never really taken the time to familiarize myself with exactly why all the violence is occurring and the details of what is happening to the civilians inside the country.

The article contains a picture of the letter, which al-Abed starts out by introducing herself. She adds that she is from Eastern Aleppo and even uses the word “besieged” to describe it. She talks about the fact that although she is able to attend school now that she has relocated to Turkey, there are still millions of children that don’t have opportunities for education in Syria. She even reaches out to him on a personal level.

“You must do something for the children of Syria, because they are like your children and deserve peace like you,” she writes.

She ends it by saying that she is looking forward to what he will do for the children in her homeland.

Along with the letter there are several screenshots of tweets that al-Abed has posted throughout the past few months. There is one that consists of a video of her crouching by her bed as we hear a bomb erupt. There is another one that includes the picture of a half blown-up building surrounded by piles of rubble, and she writes, “This is my reading place where I wanted to start reading 'Harry Potter' but it’s bombed. I will never forget.”

Although all of the messages that she has sent out are heart-wrenching and terrifying, the one that really strikes a chord with me is a tweet that she posted just a couple of weeks ago.

The tweet includes a picture of her standing near the water, with a large city in the background. She is wearing a pink coat, white scarf and grey leggings. Her hair is braided and she is presenting a small, but sweet smile. She looks like a normal little girl. The caption says, “No more bombing… I have 20 days of peace in my life. I thought the world was just like Aleppo and bombing was normal.”

The reason why that upsets me so much is because there are thousands, millions even, of not only children but adults alike, who know nothing more than poverty, violence and so on. They, like little Bana, may think to themselves that the whole world must be suffering.

As I previously mentioned, I love to read and watch the news, but I for some reason have neglected to stay on top of everything that is specifically happening in the Middle East. After reading this article, the importance for educating myself on foreign issues has been refreshed in my mind.

I think it’s crucial for everybody to realize that importance too, because some of us may be like Bana – some may think that just because bombs aren’t going off here and innocent children aren’t lying lifeless in the street, that those types of horrors must not be happening other places. Newsflash: They are.

I also think that these sorts events are important to read about because they are directly influenced by the ban that our new president, Donald Trump, has just recently put into place.

I feel sorrow, because I don’t believe Trump will help the people of Syria, despite desperate pleas like the one from al-Abed. I mean, how could he? He’s not even allowing them into our country.