A Snowy Syrian Season
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Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing your exhaled breath dance through the cold crisp air.
A reminder to the world that we're still here.
Unfortunately the above picture is far, far away from the realms of imagination. In actuality, it is a present-day world that exists within the sphere of reality for many millions of people.
For my family and me, this morning's events unfolded with nearly identical fashion as most winter mornings do in our little home in an urban-poor quarter here in the Middle East. I pulled the covers away from my head to watch my exhaled breath drift through the cold crisp air, stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth and bathe, got dressed, ate the same breakfast I have every morning, and was then ready to begin my day.
Yet while multitudes may consider our living conditions to be sub-standard at the very least, to countless others, they would be considered luxurious. As we are surrounded by Syrian refugees living, suffering and dying in absolutely deplorable conditions most of the world would consider inconceivable, I am reminded of the numerous things I have to be grateful for: A cinder block building versus a tent in which to live, three blankets instead of only one to wrap myself up in, and enough clothing that allows me to wear multiple layers to add at least a certain amount of warmth to my body.
Unfortunately, I am also reminded of the much more brutal aspects the ongoing Syrian civil war has produced and continues to produce, day in and day out, with no end in sight.
I am reminded of the more than 120,000 Syrians who have thus far been killed ' many of whom are entirely innocent women and children ' throughout the ongoing conflict. I am reminded of the more than 2 million traumatized Syrian refugees who have already fled to neighboring countries, where for the most part they are not welcomed or wanted at all by the majority of the local, national population. I am reminded of the more than 5 million Syrians who have been internally displaced, and for all practical purposes have lost their livelihoods due to the continued fighting inside of Syria. I am reminded of the lost generation this war is producing.
I also am reminded of the stories I have chronicled of Ahmad, Nura, and the many Syrian Cotton Pickers.
And finally, I am still reminded that "The Dead Don't Debate".
Jeff d. Patterson, Middle East Specialist: While the ashes were beginning to settle in New York City with the setting of the sun on 9/11, Jeff D. Patterson was unpacking his bags far, far away from American shores; far, far away from his family and friends; far, far away from his homeland. He was starting a new phase of life in a region of the world he would call ‘home’ for most of the next decade. Jeff was taking his first breaths of Middle Eastern air, thinking of the world becoming a better place… In contrast to most... (more...)