The Measure of Humanity

The world has forgotten to measure its humanity. It has forgotten to see itself mirrored in the unbearable innocence of the faces of children. It has forgotten its own name, its own place, its own heartbeat. It’s name has become war, its face falling bombs, its very heartbeat the rapidly dying, falling, shattering bodies of little children. Like a handful of petals, already crushed between careless fingers, thrown casually, recklessly into the wind the little children’s bodies keep falling, falling, endlessly falling…

And so even when the world lay wounded and dying on that beach, it did not recognize its own death. Even when it sat broken and shattered, bleeding in unendurable shock in that hospital room, in that ambulance, it did not concede it was in the throes of its imminent death; even as the atoms of its very existence unraveled…

But when the children die, one by one, like breathtakingly, remarkably radiant rare flowers that they are; like extraordinary flowers that burst suddenly out of existence, leaving barely a faint hint of the exquisite fragrance they once emanated, then- then the world has already died. And when the children die, all at once, they leave nothing behind but a faint glow of the little fireflies they once were, then- then the world has already died, dimmed forever in eternal, unacknowledged shame.

The world has forgotten to measure its humanity. Its streets and corridors are filled with little children, whose eyes are older than time. Its alleyways and main thoroughfares are filled with children that fall asleep, exhausted from marching all day selling small packets of gum or tissues to the adults who never look them in the eye. The world has forgotten its name in shame. Its spine forever twisted, tortured, pained in avoidance of looking at the children. Its bomb shattered towns are filled with little children who no longer shudder as the bombs fall. To them the falling, shattering, bursting bombs are as normal as the hunger that refuses to leave. As normal as the wounds that do not receive treatment. As normal as the lost siblings, lost parents, and lost hope before they even knew by what name hope went.

But they know. They know that something, something unnameable, something valuable, a birth right to something they cannot grasp, cannot frame into words, something treasured has been stolen from them- they do not know its called happiness or safety-…and the world in turn is too ashamed to look them in the eye. Ashamed but not acting. Ashamed and yet knowing.

And so no one looks the children in the eye any more, because to look is to see the world reflected back in all its naked, glorious failure, of a world laying shattered, broken, destroyed beyond recognition and name.

But… maybe the day will come where the children can be just children. Where their little hearts will be filled with joy and love and laughter and promises of a bright future. And their moments filled with unbearable lightness so beautiful, so innocent, that they fill the world in turn with the fragrance of their exquisite innocence.

But the world needs to remember its name. It needs to re-measure its humanity, face itself and see peace reflected, and feel its heartbeat is love. Until then. Until then the little butterflies die one by one, they fade and leave, leaving hints of what could have been; and it is the world left bare, left adrift, left diminished, silenced, lost, faded, empty, ashamed and knowing, in eternal unrecognized shame.

Hawzhin Azeez

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