Q: What if we valued humanitarian aid as highly as we value human might?

Tonight I was privileged to be given a microphone and a soapbox (as if I need the extra height) to raise an issue and put forward an ’empowering idea’ as part of the #PositionofStrength event hosted by Twitter and Women’s Agenda. Each of the participants spoke eloquently about important, big picture social issues.

We each had 140 seconds.

Here’s what I had to say:

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I wondered this the other day:

What if we gave as many column inches to random acts of kindness as we do to random acts of violence?

What if we valued humanitarian aid as highly as we value human might?

What if we focussed as much on the saving of lives, as we do on the taking of lives?

Not to forget the horrors – no that would be a mistake, you can’t end violence without acknowledging it, refusing to turn away – but so that we remember both the horrors and the human beings – the survivors, the real heroes and heroines, too. The other parts of the story.

Let’s take the situation in Syria as our example. This is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today and it has fallen from our front pages except for the discussions of radicalism, of military action. We have focussed on the violence and might of a few and all but forgotten about the millions of normal, innocent people most impacted by this, people who have had no choice in this situation, including millions of kids.

They need humanitarian aid, not more human suffering.

They need books, not more bombs.

They need vaccines, not more violence.

They need education, care and psycho-social support, not more psychological terror.

Let’s end violence against children. All children. And show the kids of today – the adults of the future – that there are non-violent alternatives. That these other acts, the acts of kindness, caring and aid that we too often overlook, are the truly powerful acts, the acts of the truly brave.

They are the next generation and what happens to those millions of kids matters to the world of the future – and it matters now. That is why I will be traveling to the border of Syria later this month as UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Child Survival, to hear their stories first hand – the horrors, yes, but also the resilience, the helping, the incredible human spirit that comes through in crisis. I want to know what is keeping them going, and how I can help. How we can all help. I want to value that. I want to value the many Australian volunteers who have risked their lives to go to Syria to help. Not the few who have gone to fight.

I hope you will follow this journey at #childrenofsyria and #endviolence and not turn away. Not from the violence and the horrors, and not from the human beings, the kids, the heroines and heroes who deserve our attention – and NEED it right now.

 

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