When my gangly teens were newborns I would often fear they would stop breathing.
I wasn’t unusual most Mums and Dads do. I’d wake in the night and hold my own breath until I heard their sibilant sleepy sighs. Their signs of life. Sometimes when they were ill and coughing I would sit by their cots as if somehow my very presence kept them breathing. I would will them to breathe, and in the wee hours rung out from exhaustion, in a hazy dawn half-light I would thank God that they had made it through another night.
I would sometimes think of what they would do with their lives, where they would go, who they would be, who they would love. They would always have my love, and their family’s love. I believed it was a powerful thing, that love would shepherd them through childhood until they were adults.
I never doubted that our love would not, could not keep them safe.
I know now that I was wrong.
It wasn’t the strength of our love that kept them safe, it was by sheer good fortune that they were born into a comfortable middle class family in peaceful Auckland, New Zealand.
Not Rawanda, or Afghanistan… or Syria.
Last week, on the 25th May 2012 49 children were murdered in the Syrian town of Houla. They weren’t killed, snuffed out whilst sleeping, or even killed quickly. They were murdered one by one. In front of their families. One by one. In front of their mothers, whose love failed to keep them safe.
Their mothers were murdered alongside the innocent. Some of them were raped before they died. Some watched helplessly as their babies were butchered in front of their disbelieving eyes.
I thought I could write a hard hitting post, telling you about the atrocities carried out on the innocents in Houla. But I cannot articulate the horror of children beheaded, babies without arms, children with half-moon broken skulls. What words are there to describe such evil?
I can’t describe the evil in a man’s head that enables him to take a machete and dismember a two year old’s face. I don’t understand it.
But I can add my voice to the Save the Children petition which calls for strong legislatively binding Resolution to Protect Children, which will bring the full force of International law down on anyone attacking children and other civilians.
My love can’t keep these children safe, but my voice, my signature, may do so. Yours could too. Please sign the petition and call for an end to the violence. We need to stop this now. In the name of love – the love of humankind.