Amazing isn’t it?
We can all stomach endless grainy video images of boatloads of people drowning in the sea.
Yes, we’ll huff and puff a bit about how awful it is, but then we quickly get back to our own comparatively comfortable, non-drowning lives.
Yet one pin-sharp image of a three-year-old boy washed up on the shoreline and we stop and shudder in collective horror.
A horror that lingers, that cuts deep into our consciousness, that is far harder to casually etch from the mind.
I can’t stop thinking about Aylan Kurdi and I’m damn sure you can’t either if you’ve seen the photo.
Not the one of him being carried away by the Turkish police officer, because that conveys an air of humanity and kindness.
No, the photo I can’t stop thinking about it is the one of Aylan lying face down on the edge of the water.
His small dead body being lapped by the cold surf.
His soaking red T-shirt pulled half way up.
His pants crunched.
His tiny shoes baring their sodden soles to the sky.
Further down the beach lay his brother Galip, aged just five.
Their mother is also believed to have perished.
In total, 12 Syrian refugees lost their lives in this tragedy.
They’d been packed onto a tiny boat that set off from Bodrum in Turkey for Kos in Greece, a hazardous 5km journey that represented their best chance of reaching Europe.
Aylan’s family fled Kobane in Syria last year to escape the Islamic State, a group that delights in beheading, torturing, shooting and setting fire to anyone that displeases them.
And a group that wouldn’t now have such an iron grip in Syria were it not for the appalling, shockingly misguided decision by the United States and its chief ally Britain to invade Iraq in 2003 – the war that started the region’s slide into barbarity.
The barbarity Aylan and his family were trying to flee.
They, and millions like them in Syria, aren’t ‘migrants’, as so many ill-informed people on social media seem to think, and as some in mainstream media disingenuously encourage us to think.
They’re not trying to pursue a better economic life for themselves, something which is perfectly acceptable but which should be liable to strict immigration checks and balances.
No, they’re trying to save their lives.
They’re fleeing a country so ravaged by five years of war that it now resembles an inferno of hell.
Sixty per cent of all the refugees met by the International Rescue Committee on the Greek Islands are from Syria.
They are refugees in the purest sense of that word.
People so desperate that they will risk death to seek sanctuary.
Imagine being Aylan’s parents as they paid their last savings over to some cut-throat mercenary in a final effort to make their kids safe again.
I have four children and if I had been in that situation, I’d have done exactly the same. Hoping and praying that if I made it to Greece, then somebody with a heart would help us.
Where is our heart now?
What have we become if we can’t deal with this tidal wave of despair?
Let’s be clear: we have a moral, ethical and legal duty to help them.
Syria is not one country’s nor one continent’s problem.
It’s everyone’s problem.
The repercussions of that conflict have had a direct impact on the security and finances of everywhere else in the world.
So what are we all doing about it?
Britain has taken in just a few hundred Syrian refugees so far, and Prime Minister David Cameron seems shamefully reluctant to increase that commitment.
This from a nation that went to war in Iraq on the spurious trumped up pretext of Saddam Hussein having WMDs. A totally unnecessary war that stirred up the hornet’s nest out of which ISIS and its barbaric ilk have emerged and thrived.
WE are thus largely to blame for this fiasco, and WE must take responsibility for the innocent victims of it.
America is just as culpable.
Since the Syrian conflict started, the United States has taken precisely 1,234 refugees.
Think about that for a moment. In fact, think about it for several long moments.
Because it’s an absolute bloody disgrace.
These people are fleeing the very mayhem which America and Britain helped create.
Yet neither the UK nor U.S. governments seem to give a damn about them.
The US State Department announced last week a new target of taking in up to 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.
To which my response is: PATHETIC.
Compare and contrast to Germany, the most powerful country in Europe.
It has pledged to take in 800,000.
That’s 100 times as many as the world’s most powerful country.
And that’s called proper leadership in the face of one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our times.
Cameron and Obama love to act the big brave boys on the global stage when it comes to standing up to terrorism.
They’ll order fighter jets and drones to rain down bombs on people’s heads.
Yet when it comes to stopping little children dying as they try and escape both the same terrorism and the military efforts to combat it, the same two men have shown themselves to be little more than timid, callous cowards.
Today, there is as much fevered debate about whether news organisations should have published the image of Aylan as there is as to what caused him to be dead in the first place.
We saw the same argument last week when a young female TV journalist and her cameraman were shot dead live on air.
‘We can’t publish the pictures because they are too horrendous!’ came the cry.
Yet that’s exactly why we should publish them.
As with that diabolical ISIS video of them setting on fire and killing a Jordanian pilot trapped in a cage, sometimes we need to SEE the full horror to fully understand it and be shocked enough to act on it.
The civil rights movement changed irrevocably in the ‘50s when a young black boy named Emmet Till was brutally mutilated and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and his mother insisted on a public funeral with an open casket, allowing the world to see exactly what these evil bastards had done to her son.
I believe that if Americans had been allowed to see images from inside Sandy Hook school after the massacre of 20 young children in 2012, then new draconian gun laws would have been implemented within months.
(One family member told me each child was shot three to 11 times and each bullet wound was the size of a golf ball. Think the NRA could spin their way out of those pictures?)
Dramatic pictures have always told a thousand words, sometimes a million.
And this one of Aylan Kurdi is no different.
Look at it, digest it, recoil from it, get angered by it, shed a tear over it, and demand action from your politicians across the globe.
We owe it to Aylan to stop this cruel madness, and to stop it fast.
Because if we don’t, many more young kids will be washed up on the shores.
And their fresh young blood will be on all our hands.
Or should I say, even more of it.