My boy stood up in his school hall and sang today.
He is small for his age and shy, so Gwyneth and I spent the whole time craning our necks for fleeting glimpses of his little face in the crowd.
Unusually, this year’s show featured the world’s most famous middle eastern refugee child. His parent’s perilous donkey ride was also mentioned (though not the political climate which forced to them to make such an arduous journey coz that would be a bit unChristmassy), but the main message today was all about being a shining star; a shining star in your own life.
One little boy wasn’t feeling very shiny. He silently wept throughout the performance, his little tinfoil-star headband quivering under the lights.
Two of the mum’s weren’t feeling very shiny either. They sat together in headscarves, both of them barely raising their eyes to the stage. Gwyneth whispered if maybe they were pissed off about the Christian bits; we’re a secular, multi-cultural school after all. In fact, I’ve discovered that many of our muslim friends are perplexed by the absence of Jesus-related material at this time of year. As religious people, they’re totally cool with religious festivals…
Then I came home and saw the news.
I saw a man bleeding and heard the appalling screams of a woman in flames.
I learned that people are saying government forces are now going into buildings and shooting women and children.
I read desperate tweets, final goodbyes migrating across the globe from a torn-apart city to this safe one I call home.
Those Mums in the audience are Syrian. I’m guessing that while our children were singing songs about love and hope, they were drowning in fear and despair for their families and friends. In my local school. On a Tuesday morning. While I sipped coffee and felt self-conscious in my too-tight-this-year Christmas jumper.
There’s a song out at the moment called ‘Human’ by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. His voice is all blues-gospel but he looks like a Hells Angel. It’s my Christmas No.1 for the year that keeps on killing. The song ends:
I’m only human, I do what I can,
I’m just a man, I do what I can,
Don’t put the blame on me,
Don’t put your blame on me.
We’re only humans, doing what we can. We can’t take the blame for Aleppo.
As we watch the carnage, we can only alternate between guilt and gratitude; ashamed to be so concerned over our own problems, thankful for the turkey on order and the healthy child singing in his school hall.
We share news links on facebook and donate to humanitarian charities whilst feeling utterly paralysed by the vast scale of need in Syria and in our own school yards.
But while we are feeling hopeless about what to do and confused about how this happened and how it can be stopped, our Prime Minister and her team are having a twitter spat about mean things people are saying about her TROUSERS.
The US President-elect is having a twitter spat about mean things comedians are saying about him on a TV SHOW.
The leader of our opposition is getting PISSY with people who dare to ask him questions publicly about WHAT THE HELL HE THINKS WE SHOULD BE DOING ABOUT SYRIA.
Mary and Joseph had to schlep it to Bethlehem because Quirinius, the governor of Syria, was following orders from Caesar to call a census. He called a census so he could make sure everyone was paying their taxes so he could make sure he could afford to fight mental wars all over the place. (Ok, my knowledge of religious history is a bit patchy, but it went something like this, right?)…
Two thousand years later, our taxes are paying the wages of people who behave like teenagers.
Meanwhile our actual teenagers are growing up in a world where it’s totally normal that while a mental dictator is murdering thousands of innocent children, our elected leaders are spending their time giving each other beef on twitter.
When it comes to these humans, we can firmly put the blame on THEM.
My problems in life are not nothing. In my small corner of the world I am fighting many personal battles, big and small. So are you. So is everyone. We’re only human, doing what we can. But tonight, while it is -4° in Aleppo, my little shining star will be tucked up warm in bed, raging that I won’t allow him more ipad time.
May our elected leaders feel the chill tonight. May they get off their twitter feeds and their privileged high-horses and look up at the stars shining in our safe skies and WORK OUT WHAT THE FUCK WE CAN ACTUALLY DO ABOUT SYRIA.
Here endeth the Annagram sermon.