President Obama shares letter a little boy wrote to him about the Syrian refugee crisis
A young boy wrote a letter to President Obama about his concern for Syrian refugees, offering up his own home as a safe place. His words are simple and poignant, showing how compassionate children can be even when adults are not.
Alex is six years old. He’s from Scarsdale, New York and he’s worried about something. So he did what any enterprising six-year-old would do and reached out to President Obama to see if he could help. The president did Alex one better and instead of merely writing back, he read the boy’s words out loud at a United Nations summit on refugees.
He writes, “Remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria? Can you please go get him and bring him to our home? Park in the driveway or on the street and we’ll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother.”
Alex is referring to Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-old boy from Aleppo, Syria whose image sitting dazed in an ambulance wiping blood from his hand touched the world. He was pulled from the rubble after an airstrike bombed his home. The photo spread quickly and became a symbol for the ongoing violence in the region and the toll it’s taking on innocent people like Omran and his family.
The boy explains that he has a friend at school from Syria named Omar and that he could introduce the two so they could “all play together.”
And this is where you can pause for a moment and cry. We certainly had to.
How is it that a small child can have such compassion in his heart and a total lack of cynicism where so many adults cannot? All this little boy knows is that another child just like him doesn’t have a nice school, a bunch of toys and a safe home and family to call his own. And that’s all he needs to know to want to help him. Why can’t we be the same way?
Alex says he will invite Omran to birthday parties and that he can teach them another language. And since he knows Omran doesn’t have any toys, he offers up his sister Catherine’s “big, blue, stripy white bunny.”
Alex might be compassionate, but he is six years old after all. Let’s not go too crazy.
He does offer to share his bike and teach him how to ride it along with some lessons in addition and subtraction. Clearly, Alex is willing to do just about anything to give Omran the kind of life he himself has. Which is how all Americans should feel in the wake of the atrocities children like Omran are experiencing across the ocean.
It seems so far away and inconsequential to our daily lives that it takes something like the jarring image of Omran, dazed and bloodied, alone in an ambulance, not quite knowing what to do, to make us even think about the crisis going on in his country. But as President Obama says after reading Alex’s words, “He teaches us a lot.” This kind little boy wants nothing more than to give other children the peace and happiness he gets to experience every day living in America. We should all follow his lead.
Obama told the assembled world leaders, “Those are the words of a six-year-old boy. He teaches us a lot. The humanity that a young child can display who hasn’t learned to be cynical or suspicious or fearful of other people because of where they’re from or how they look or how they pray.”
“We can all learn from Alex.”
Indeed, we can. And with this election, we can keep out a tyrannical, racist, xenophobic madman who would work to keep children like Omran from coming to our country for safe harbor. Let’s try to be like Alex instead of him.