(Photo Credit: Al Jazeera)

Imagine this:

You’re 13 years old, life is simple. You go to school every day and you come home in the evening. Maybe you spend the rest of the day playing with friends nearby, or helping your mom and/or dad around the house or with younger siblings. Stresses vary from homework to dinner or maybe getting a job to help your family. Life isn’t easy, but it is simple and you are happy.

Because of disagreement, politics, and religion – there is conflict around the world, and even across your own country’s border. It seems to far away, so it could never happen to you. Here in the US, we never really worry about conflict on our own soil. We hear about it on the news and then go about our simple days.

Then everything changes.

You wake to the loudest noises you’ve ever heard. There’s smoke, sirens, screaming, yelling, and more crashing. What do you do?

Your family. Where is mom? Where is dad? Where are you siblings? Are they okay? You’ve read about this in articles or books, but you’ve never put yourself in this situation because it’s only something you read about. You run downstairs, you can’t see anything. It’s dark. Or smokey – you’ve forgotten your sense of smell in the fight or flight response of this situation.

Your mom. She’s gone. Where’s everyone else? You walk outside because finding them is far more important than hiding from whatever it is that’s out there. You see a figure lying on the ground. Do you want to know who it is? You run to check if they’re alive. It’s your neighbor – he’s been killed by the blast of whatever it was that hit. The amount you still don’t know about your surroundings is stifling, but you have one mission and it is to find your family – your world.

At this moment, social life, money, fancy cars, what outfit you had planned for that day, facebook, your instagram followers, some celebrity’s drama you’d be following – don’t matter. They don’t even cross your mind. The news you read about yesterday about a chemical attack in Syria isn’t just a news article anymore – this is real. It’s happening to people like you and me.

You can see figures in the distance of smokey emergency lights, stumbling, gasping for air. You run to approach them and suddenly you can’t see or breath anymore either. The figure is your mother. She’s gasping and has lost consciousness of her surroundings. You’re fading, but you want nothing more than to make sure she’s okay. But it’s becoming darker, something you thought impossible in the dead of a night like this. Then everything goes black.

Maybe you wake up in a hospital you’re wary of being targeted by air strikes, or maybe you don’t at all. You don’t know where mom or dad or your little sister is. You only remember the sight of your stumbling mother and having no idea how life took this turn when you were only just in class, passing time on Facebook, just yesterday.

But my point is it can.

This is the reality for millions of people around our world and that number is growing. This is not to scare my reader, but to make them feel. Our news has gotten so grim, I too, have began to hide from it. There’s too much happening to keep up, there’s not enough we can do. But we can feel. It is because of the lack of feeling and empathy that conflict takes turns like it has in Syria.

My God is grander than your God. You must believe in my God or you are not worthy.

My president is stronger than your president and if you do not believe in his mission, you don’t deserve to be here. 

My skin color is grander than your skin color, and unless you serve my kind – we will not share space with your kind. 

Seriously?

These are the issues we fight about every day. In the news, on the internet – on Twitter. Aren’t we spoiled? The biggest worry the majority* of our country has to worry about is how much we pay for gas, taxes, or who voted for Obamacare and who supports Trump. Granted, I recognize the fight of many against our own government in healthcare, pipelines, rights of women, etc – but we have the capacity to fight for these things because we can. We are not more occupied with demolishment of our cities by enemy powers, chemical attacks on neighborhoods we live in, or the literal war ground within sight of our cities.

This article is not to tell you what to fight for, but to feel lucky that we can fight for something other than our lives. Recognize this privilege and respect the fight of everyone. Be aware of what is happening in both our own backyard, or in that of someone half way across the globe. You cannot save everything and you cannot fight every fight – but expanding your view to something wider than your twitter feed is what the world needs right now. If you’re feelingthen you’re more likely to spread that feeling, the motive to help, to teach, to learn. 

I, too, enjoy Instagram, creating my own image with fashion and those that inspire my next style – this is okay. But it is not all. Please recenter your priorities to be more than just that of yourself. There is so much more happening in the world other than who’s driving a Benz, or what the Kardashians are up to this week.

You do not have to parade across Facebook with your new found feeling, but allow yourself to feel it. Engage in constructive dialogue. Read – a lot. Attend a protest (because if that doesn’t give you the feels, I don’t know what will) and share the space with people who are fighting for their own rights and are expressing their passion for it. Spark conversations with friends that you wouldn’t usually talk to about world affairs. Make plans to either help or prepare. Jump outside of the usual – because the state our world is in should not be considered the usual.

Make it the usual to

feel. 

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*I am not belittling the fights we have here at home. Standing Rock is my home, so I understand, feel, and worry about our own rights and how our own government seeks to care of its country. There are school closing every day in Chicago, family of my own friends being deported – or rather just thrown in jail with no information on what is to come, and young African American girls disappearing every day in places like DC. We have our own wars, and I will never demote the importance of our own. What I will demote is the empty fights we deem important when they’re something we won’t care about five years down the road. Five years ago? Syria was still fighting this fight. Perspective.

Published by Tiana Wilson