My Facebook Photo Of A Syrian Child Was Reported As Inappropriate
Last week a disturbing photo made its way around the world which captured the horrifying plight of Syrian refugees. The photo was of a child, Aylan Kurdi, who died along with his mother and brother in his family’s desperate attempt to reach Europe by boat.
I posted this photo to my personal Facebook page, and perhaps you did as well. The photo depicted a police officer looking down at Aylan’s tiny body, dressed carefully for his dangerous journey, face down in the water along the beach.
Within a few minutes of posting this photo to Facebook, comments were streaming in.
“This breaks my heart.”
“Terrible. Truly awful.”
“So, so sad. Especially as I look at my 3-year-old sitting here safely without a care in the world.”
Then, suddenly, another notification came across my phone screen: Facebook informed me that someone had reported my photo as inappropriate.
I quietly set my phone down beside me, instantly thinking, “If we can’t confront this reality from the comfort of our own homes, if it’s too disturbing, it’s too uncomfortable – so much so that we feel like we have to block it from our phones and computer screens, then maybe we are part of the reason why this tragedy is continuing.”
I’ve traveled to Syria’s borders with Lebanon and Turkey during the conflict, sat in border hospitals with children who were shot by snipers, cried unstoppable tears with a refugee mother who had just buried her 5-year-old son in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley after they couldn’t afford the medical care that would have saved his life.
I share stories and photos of the crisis because I think awareness is crucial. It’s the first step to action.
Although my initial reaction was a feeling of confusion and anger toward the person who attempted to block my awareness efforts, I realized (with some time and prayer) that I would ultimately want to engage with this person.
I would like to ask, “Why do you feel like this image shouldn’t be shared?” And the reality is that they may have some good reasons for their perspective.
I think we can all agree that the image is extremely disturbing. When I first saw it, I thought I might be sick. The idea of a three-year-old washing up on a beach, having drowned with his family, makes my stomach churn, my eyes fill with tears, my heart ache. Maybe they felt something similar?
Where I might differ with the person who reported my post, is that I feel that this image should be seen, should be shared, because it should disturb us.
I hope it shakes us, wakes us, disrupts us in the midst of our comfortable lives and forces us to confront the wrenching tragedy faced by millions of innocent women, men, and children.
And ultimately, I hope that seeing an image like this compels us to take action, perhaps by:
Signing this petition if you live in the United States, asking the government to commit to resettling more Syrian refugees in the U.S.
Speaking out through joining Open Doors advocacy efforts for refugees displaced by war. Please take a moment to join our monthly advocacy email update, as we provide readers with regular opportunities to take action.
Facebook didn’t delete my photo, which means that this image shared by thousands is still making its way around the world.
It is my hope that this photo will wake us up – all of us – to the horror facing millions and compel us to take action for the Aylans of the world.