‘Remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria?’
A major issue in the 2016 election has been how America should handle the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proposes helping Syrian refugees by resettling up to 65,000 in the United States. While Republican nominee Donald Trump proposes the exact opposite—he would turn his back on the crisis by refusing help to the refugees and banning all people from Muslim countries from entering the United States. Donald Trump Jr., the son of the Republican nominee, went so far as to share a fear-mongering meme that compared the refugees to poisoned Skittles.
Amongst all of Trump’s xenophobic sabre rattling, the heartfelt words of a child have injected some much-needed compassion into the national debate. Earlier this week, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees at the United Nations, President Obama read a letter he received from six-year-old boy in New York named Alex. In his letter, the boy asks Obama if his family can adopt Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy who captured the world’s attention after being photographed covered in blood and dust after an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria.
Today, the White House released a video of Alex reading his profound letter. “Dear President Obama, remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria?” Alex reads from his family’s dining room table. “Can you please go get him and bring him to our home? We’ll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons.” Alex has a personal reason for wanting to be involved. He has a friend at school who is Syrian. “In my school, I have a friend from Syria, Omar. I will introduce [Omran] to Omar, and we can all play together.”
“Those are the words of a six-year-old boy—a young child who has not learned to be cynical or suspicious or fearful of other people because of where they come from, how they look, or how they pray,” Obama said in his speech at the Leaders’ Summit. “We should all be more like Alex. Imagine what the world would look like if we were. Imagine the suffering we could ease and the lives we could save.” Alex’s letter is a powerful reminder that America can be a power for compassion in the world, if we simply follow our better angels instead of our base instincts.