Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with the problems happening around the world, I get numb and silent. This has been one of those times.

I lay beside my little son as he sleeps breathing in and out watching his angelic face safe in our home. I try to put myself in the shoes of a mother trapped with her own baby in wartime. Just imagining the scenario forces me to hold my breath, a feeling of heaviness on my chest and lungs overtake me, the constricting of my throat and a sinking weight in the pit of my stomach. My heart races and all I want to do is wrap my arms around my child, kiss him and never let him go. In the silence of my room I whisper, “thank God you are safe”. 

I then say a prayer for all the victims of war and conflict that I have read about recently, especially the terrified children. The ones who have heard air raid sirens, felt the thunder of explosions, smelt gunpowder and smoke, seen the blood of their own family members or have fled their home and tasted dirt as they slept the night on the bare earth.

In a split second lives get turned upside down and life trajectories are changed forever. Years of pain and sadness follow. The hurt gets harboured somewhere whether in their minds, in their bodies or etched forever in their soul. For some the stored pain is released through therapy; for some it is transformed into disease and illness; for some it is forced out by spurts of anger, retaliation and re-eruptions of war. For a few however it is transformed into empathy and action, energy directed into the exploration for peaceful solutions. I count on those few who will turn the tide and bring a lasting peace.

There are so many heartbreaking stories emerging about the suffering Yazidis, Turkmen, Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Palestinians, Israelis, not to mention all the conflicts outside the Middle East as well.

When will this senseless violence end?
When will we evolve to the stage we can actually call ourselves ‘human’?

Human beings are members of a whole, 
In creation of one essence and soul. 
If one member is afflicted with pain, 
Other members uneasy will remain. 
If you've no sympathy for human pain, 
The name of human you cannot retain

بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی

~Saadi (ancient Persian poet)



Nazanin Afshin-Jam and David Etebari co-founded Stop Child Executionsa non-profit organization aimed to put an end to the execution of minors on death row in Iran and worldwide.