27 August 2013
The holocaust of the innocents
by Dr Yael Klangwisan
I wrote about Syria a little while ago on this blog. The destruction of ancient Homs was foremost in my mind then. But this week the on-going civil war in Syria seems to have taken a new turn and presented the media-saturated world with images of new tragedy that slip through the gaps and tears in between the other soporific images vying for airtime: Simon Cowell’s impending fatherhood, the demise of another good guy in New Zealand politics, the latest iphone, the All Blacks new pay rise and the new little English prince.
I see on the news, children in pyjamas and soft t-shirts, hundreds, lying in rows like sleeping angels, which recalls for me my own daughter who lay sleeping like that early on Wednesday morning. I kissed my daughter on her forehead, as she was sleeping, and reluctantly woke her so she could change her pyjamas for her school uniform. But these many children in eastern Damascus, who look fast asleep will not wake, having suffocated in their sleep, and the media is reporting that governments and related international agencies are suspecting these children are the victims of a fatal concoction of poisonous gas that found its way into their bedrooms through specially fitted missiles and this is belied by the fact only a very few of them are gasping for breath or shaking, evidencing an unbelievable possibility, that somewhere, someone in Syria made a decision to use chemical weapons on Syrian people, in a suburb full of children like Ghouta. These horrors that are the horrors of Exodus 1:22 and Matthew 2:16, and 1939-45 and the myriad other massacres that I wish could seep into history and be lost, only because they would have been eclipsed by the decades and centuries of higher humanity, higher morality, the reason that seems so clear to us, that it is wrong and wicked to kill, but beyond this, that the slaughter the innocents is humanity’s worst memory, and we promised as humanity, never again. I cannot imagine what it is to be a mother in the eastern suburbs of Damscus, in Ghouta today, sitting vigil beside my ever-sleeping child, still in their pyjamas.