All Lives (in Aleppo) Matter

I’ve been wanting to write on All Lives Matter for a while and with all that has been going on in Aleppo recently I thought this would be a good time to do so. All Lives Matter came about as a response to Black Lives Matter. Personally, when it come to All Lives Matter I have an issue with it because it seems to deny what Black Lives Matter stands for, plus it seems to be dishonest to me. When someone says black lives matter it isn’t that they do not say all lives don’t, they’re acknowledging that black lives haven’t always and still don’t matter and that they should. And how honest is someone being when they ‘all lives matter’? Now all lives should matter whether they’re black, white and any other race or colour. But let’s be honest, do we really care when other people suffer?

How about the lives of those in Aleppo? Do they really matter? Maybe we have no empathy towards them because they’re miles apart? Maybe we couldn’t care less because their faith and culture is different to ours? Maybe since we’re in the safe and easy West what happens to those living in the Middle East is irrelevant to us?

I admit there have been times when Aleppo and Syria have been in the news, and I haven’t taken much notice because it seems to be the same thing: the government and the rebels fighting and killing one another. Seeing so much war and death in the news can make one feel overwhelmed, so overwhelming that we become numb to the pain and death that has been afflicted upon the people of Aleppo. Sometimes we need something to draw us in, we need something we can relate to. I think when Sky News filmed the girl blaming Bashar al-Assad for the death of her brothers did cause some to feel some empathy to those suffering. But not everyone feels this way, there are those who are cynical and view the words of the girl as being insincere.

While reading articles on Aleppo and reminding myself of how this civil war in Syria started I began to ask myself what was the point in writing this post – what was I trying to achieve. I think ultimately I’m pushing back from sentimentality and wanting to be more realistic. I question the honesty of the All Lives Matter movement and even the Black Lives Matter movement.

If someone isn’t like us or we have no connection to a certain community or nationality then do their lives matter to us? Should Black Lives Matter be renamed African American Lives Matter or Black British Lives Matter? Do the lives of black Africans matter? Do we care about the lives lost in clashes in South Sudan? Or have we stopped to think about the way Somali refugees are treated in Kenya? I acknowledge that African American and black British lives have been treated as if they haven’t – and still don’t – mattered, I will say no other race has been treated as badly as blacks have been but Black Lives Matter seems to only limited to the lives of blacks living in the West.

But maybe that’s human nature: we take care of our own and don’t care about the suffering of those who we view as ‘foreigners’.  I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just asking if it’s how we honestly think. And if it is our way of thinking should we try to feel and be more compassionate to those who aren’t like us. Shouldn’t we see a human being as a human being?

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