+

Dazed, disoriented, and covered in dust, 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh became the face of the Syrian conflict in August 2016.

A photo emerged showing the young boy sitting stunned in the back of an ambulance, injured in an attack on his neighborhood of al-Qaterji. The sobering image grabbed the world's attention as we recoiled in horror, sadness, and, most of all, humanity.  

Just a month later, debate around refugees has returned to a political calculation. It seems as though humanity has all but forgotten the plight of Omran, his family, and countless others in their home country.


A new video released by the White House shows just how deeply Omran's story resonated — and that even when the rest of the world seemed to move on, his story wasn't lost forever.

The video features Alex, a 6-year-old boy from New York, who recently wrote a letter to President Obama — a letter we could all learn from.

See, Alex didn't forget Omran. Alex thinks about Omran, worries about Omran, and above all, wants to help Omran. His powerful letter to the president offers up his home, his toys, and his friendship to the young boy half a world away.

Image by the White House.

"Remember the boy who was picked up in the ambulance in Syria?" writes Alex.

GIF from The White House/YouTube.

"Remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria? Can you please go get him and bring him to [my home]? Park in the driveway or on the street and we will be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother. Catherine, my little sister, will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him. In my school, I have a friend from Syria, Omar, and I will introduce him to Omar. We can all play together. We can invite him to birthday parties and he will teach us another language. We can teach him English too, just like my friend Aoto from Japan."

"Please tell him that his brother will be Alex who is a very kind boy, just like him."

GIF from The White House/YouTube.

"Please tell him that his brother will be Alex who is a very kind boy, just like him. Since he won't bring toys and doesn't have toys Catherine will share her big blue stripy white bunny. And I will share my bike and I will teach him how to ride it. I will teach him additions and subtractions in math. And he [can] smell Catherine's lip gloss penguin which is green. She doesn't let anyone touch it."

Impressed with the raw humanity and compassion of Alex's letter, President Obama read it aloud at the United Nations.

GIF from The White House/YouTube.

"The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn’t learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness — we can all learn from Alex," added President Obama after reading Alex's letter.

Once we get beyond political grandstanding on things like human rights and refugees, it becomes so simple and clear what the right thing is to do.

There are an estimated 21.3 million refugees in the world; half of them are under age 18. Before coming to the U.S., refugees undergo a thorough vetting process that can last months. The odds of a U.S. citizen dying at the hands of a terrorist attack carried out by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion a year.

Those who make arguments against helping people like Omran have typically relied on scare tactics about refugees being unvetted and unsafe. They've cited dubious statistics of crime in other countries as a warning for our own safety.

GIF from Fox News/YouTube.

They are wrong, and they are starting to change their tune accordingly, appealing to our "quality of life" rather than our safety. As part of his latest stump speech, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is now making the argument that we should reject refugees for this reason. From a moral standpoint, from a human standpoint, and from an empathetic standpoint, that method of persuasion rings hollow.

Because of boys like Omran. Because of boys like Alex.

GIF from The White House/YouTube.

You can watch Alex read his heartwarming letter in the video below.

When he saw the image of the 5-year-old boy in Aleppo, Syria, 6-year-old Alex wrote a letter worth sharing with the whole world. (via President Obama)

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, September 22, 2016
via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

Sacheen Littlefeather, who famously appeared in Marlon Brando's place at Oscars, has passed away

'It feels like the sacred circle is completing itself before I go in this life.'

Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather.

A little more than two weeks after receiving a formal apology from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the abuse she suffered at the 1973 Academy Awards, Native American rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather has died at age 75.

Littlefeather is a Native American civil rights activist born to an Apache and Yaqui father and a European American mother. Littlefeather made history at the 1973 Academy Awards by forcing Hollywood and America to confront its mistreatment of Native Americans by rejecting Brando's award on his behalf.

Dressed in traditional clothing, she explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.05.21


Six years ago, a high school student named Christopher Justice eloquently explained the multiple problems with flying the Confederate flag. A video clip of Justice's truth bomb has made the viral rounds a few times since then, and here it is once again getting the attention it deserves.

Justice doesn't just explain why the flag is seen as a symbol of racism. He also explains the history of when the flag originated and why flying a Confederate flag makes no sense for people who claim to be loyal Americans.

But that clip, as great as it is, is a small part of the whole story. Knowing how the discussion came about and seeing the full debate in context is even more impressive.

Keep ReadingShow less