One world, one family


Clarisa Russenberger, Managing Editor

Deafening blasts shake my makeshift shelter. The walls of my chest rattle along with the walls of this house; my heart, pounding so fast it might jump out of my body. I thought I would get used to the constant barrage of war, but I guess accepting the probability of death wouldn’t be humane. The roar of war subsides so I rush outside to see if I can help. Destruction surrounds me, the city I once knew, now a pile of rubble. Corpses litter the street; I ignore their faces- afraid I may see someone I know. Children crying for their mothers, lovers separated by death, and screams of loss all create a ghastly melody of war.
This past January I attended a youth congress where 400 youth from over 56 countries came together to discuss issues facing our countries, ways to improve international dialogue and end biases. We attended lectures from leaders in the field, discussion forums and presentations about the reality of life in different countries. However, it wasn’t these organized activities that left the biggest impact on me, but a conversation I had on a bus; a conversation started with a simple question: “Why do you look sad sometimes?”
It came from behind me, by a man from Syria. At first, I was taken aback by his straightforward question, but I answered honestly, saying that I was a bit sick and a bit sad. I later realized that my pain in that moment was nothing compared to what this man lived through. I would not be able to understand even a fraction of the type of suffering he and other youths from Syria on the trip with me had experienced.
We talked for what seemed like hours, every detail of the reality in Syria becoming clearer and clearer.
Despite what this man and his fellow Syrians had lived through, their spirit inspired everyone on the bus. With constant singing and dancing as we moved from destination to destination, the joy radiating from these people seemed to contradict their violent reality at home.
Of course, we hear about conflicts in the Middle East every day in the news, but I realized that I had become so desensitized to what I see that I stopped thinking about the victims. It was so easy for me to watch the news and think “oh so sad,” and then turn it off and continue with my safe and comfy life. In the meantime, people living in the reality of war are being tortured and brutally murdered. It wasn’t until I myself saw the consequences that I became more compassionate to a world outside of my own.
Now, as I sit in my comfortable surroundings, with relatively few fears. I think about their reality and the reality for so many living in difficult situations. When I see the news today, it is through different eyes. It may seem too far away to impact me personally, but that is just an illusion. We are not separate — them versus me, but us — one human family. Any iniquity against one member of this family impacts us all.