This morning I read the news of the Houla massacre in Syria while surrounded by shoppers taking advantage of Memorial Day sales at vintage clothing stores. It was a bit surreal, but not all that surprising given the news that frequently comes out of Syria these days. Then I saw the pictures of children, with the caveat that the content might be a bit graphic. Children with their throats cut, with obvious signs that they had urinated on themselves. Perhaps most shocking, the pictures were accompanied by the accusations that they had been systematically slaughtered by armed militias loyal to the Assad regime.
For the next few hours I was consumed by the story and could not stay away from Twitter and Google news feeds. I was brought to tears by some accounts of the horrific attack on innocent children, and outraged by the seemingly benign and broad statements made by the UN and other voices in the international community regarding this tragedy. However, by the time dinner was ready to be served I had re-tweeted enough to soothe the anger enough so that I could enjoy a meal with friends and family on this holiday weekend. I did not forget the incident and I vented to several people throughout the course of the evening, but there were other topics, ideas, and conversations that also captured my attention as the hour grew later. It is in the silence and solitude after a long day that the massacre at Houla refuses to let me sleep.
I wonder how long it will be before I move on to something else? It is no longer a trending topic on the news feeds, so even at this moment I have to make a little more effort to search for new reports about what is happening on the ground in Syria. When I wake up tomorrow and some other story is featured on Twitter will I make any effort to ensure that those silent bodies lined up in rows on the ground in Houla will still be noticed? I am reminded of a brief but brilliant flash of activism for a campaign known as Kony2012. It has all but disappeared from the media platforms that it overwhelmed earlier this year. A brief moment of outrage, then it faded into archives and academic discussions. I feel like those murdered children in Syria deserve more than passing recognition, but I admit I am unsure how to sustain my observation of this situation.
At this moment, at this hour, awake and still very deeply disturbed, I feel strongly that I will follow the news and will watch and listen, with critical thinking, to what is being said and done with regards to the killing of innocents in Syria. I hope that in a few days this moment will still be strong enough to pull me back to the injustice that I am angry about. and that no matter the trending news I will still be searching for accountability and answers to the massacre of innocents that occurred today in Houla, Syria.