The picture shows the drowned body of a Syrian boy washed ashore on a beach of Turkey; his family tried to flee the civil war in Syria and trying to escape, Aylan, his brother, and his mother died, while his father was the only survivor.
It's “interesting” (fully aware that this is a horrible word in this context) that it is this picture that creates such buzz at the moment. There have been many more cruel pictures of dead kids from the Syrian war for years – killed in explosions, in gunfire, dying in their parents' hands. Those images did not create the stir this picture did.
It's most likely because this image has a certain emotional quality to it. I think it's the unharmed state of the body, the eery… I don't know if “peacefulness” is the right word to describe it… that makes this image touch so many people and stick in their mind.
I hope by the time you're old enough to read it, the war in Syria will have ended, and the lives and tragedies of millions of refugees will have improved, but who knows, this sometimes is a crazy world.
Why I am writing this to you, my beloved kids, is this:
By the time I am writing this, this boy is – was – between both of your ages (you're currently turned one and four, Aylan was three when he died).
I just want to make you take a moment to think about this. As your father, I hope and will do my best that your life will be as worry-free as possible; but if you encounter hard times, and I guess every one of us does, try to put things into perspective.
Your life so far has been fulfilled with everything you could wish for. There's nothing we did not make possible for you; you have all the toys you want, you have a garden to play in, you have a pool to swim in, you live in a safe place, you have food on your plate, you have a roof over your head, you live in a safe place.
The war in Syria has been raging for 5 years, and the short life of Aylan has been lived in that war.
Without security. Without the nice things that we take for granted. And when his parents tried to find a better place, a better future for their kids, two kids and their mother lost their life, leaving a grieving father behind.
I shudder if I think about how I would feel if I lost the two of you and your mother in this way.
And I am grateful for the life we have.
And this is why I am leaving this note for you – I don't want to feel bad about what you have, not at all; but if you feel bad, I want you to think about your situation, to put things into perspective, and be grateful for whatever you have.
Also, while there is often little we can do as individuals to make an impact – it's our duty as human beings to do our best, no matter how little it may appear, to help others and to do whatever we can so that things like this don't happen.
I love you and I'm grateful that we're all so well.