Yesterday your small, lifeless body washed up on the shores of Canada via an image that will forever haunt me.
I lay in bed tonight sleepless, as though the waves that carried you to rest on that beach in Turkey were battering against my mind, and knew I needed to write to you, little Alan Kurdi. You see, as Canada woke up Wednesday morning to an image that brings even the most stoic among us to tears, they also woke up to the reality that someone had failed you. We wonder, is it the Canadian government? Did they not hear your aunt’s pleas? Is it that we have not been quick enough to act against the terrors of IS in your home country to save you in time? Is it your parents’ fault, for trusting you to the uncertainty of a dangerous boat? Is it your father’s for losing grip to your small hands?
I am awake to tell you that I have failed you. To say that, a world away, your plight has not been a focus of my mind, or my country, or my elected officials. I write to you to say that while leaders say humanitarian efforts are not enough, every inch of my human body wishes I could hold the man who carried you from that beach and tell him, this is not your fault. I see that image and feel your body in my own arms. I want to shout, is it not human enough to spare another child an end on a beach? I cannot accept a world that will ever forget your image. Not the one on a beach, life gone, but the one shared by your family, laughing with all life’s opportunities still before you. Perhaps a smile I might have seen one day in a classroom in Canada. But, never to be.
Alan, I am awake to tell you and your older brother Galib that your aunt is right. We are all to blame. The whole world let this happen to you, and many other little children. It could just as easily have been another name, another small body, on another beach. We must not keep failing. I do not know how yet, but I will do what I can to be sure you are never forgotten, like seaweed on a beach; you will be the last child to wash up on Canada’s shores if I have anything to say about it.