A THOUSAND WORDS

Massoud Hossain/Agence France Presse – Getty Images

There is no more pleasurable ritual than retrieving my New York Times from the bottom of the driveway first thing in the morning. Ottie and Portia in tow, rain or shine, we quickly climb back to the house and lay out our breakfast. As much as I enjoy my NYT app, especially when I am on the move, there is nothing more satisfying, in an old-fashioned way, than to sit at my kitchen table, smoothie in hand, turning the pages of my favourite daily, especially on Wednesday, Food Section day, the one I skip to first, with nary a glance to the front page.

In a digital era, it must feel less relevant, or less compelling to have to choose a photo for  the front page. Or does it? This morning, it was a photo that stopped me in my tracks before I even sat down, making me forget breakfast and food section. Frankly, it mattered little where the scene might have taken place. The silent scream of a little girl, body tensed in fear and horror, at the center of a pile of dead or wounded bodies, was worth more than a thousand words. A toddler, in his lime green tracksuit, head down on the ground, is perched atop a grown-up in a pose that indicates very little life left in him. It’s Afghanistan but it could be any other place devastated by sectarian infighting, civil war, terrorist attacks, occupation or dictatorship. The pain and the fear on the girl’s face, so alive in the middle of a still devastation, are a common denominator in far too many places.

I cut out the photo and tacked it to my office wall, to remind me of many things, especially the courage this little girl will need to wipe away the nightmares.

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