Their motto is “To save a life is to save all of humanity”. Formed in 2013, 130 of their number have fallen, yet over 58,000 lives have been saved. They are volunteer rescue workers in Syria called “The White Helmets”.
The “White Helmets” documentary is 41 minutes long and is viewable through Netflix. It’s hard to watch as they pull the dead from under the rubble in the aftermath of a bombing. They are first on the scene when the helicopters and fighter jets are still audible and nearby. The building are still unstable, and more bombs could fall at any moment. One of the White Helmets, Abu Omar, explains his motivation.
A human being, no matter who they are, or which side they are on, if they need our help, it’s our duty to save them.
This reminded me of something I had read once in the bible, John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down his life for friends.” This was close, but not the quote I was looking for. These guys seem to be willing to risk their lives for strangers, for someone on the other side of the conflict, even for an enemy. I kept digging and found Romans 5:7-8
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The word sinners could quite easily be “enemy”. Is it possible that these Muslim men are naturally living out Christ’s example in a practical way? I am not going to start getting into a big debate on religion and beliefs and so on. I was just so moved that these guys, some who still have families; parents, siblings, wives, sons, and daughters; are willing to risk their own lives on a daily basis to try to rescue a stranger, even someone who could be “on the other side”.
In the news we constantly here about the horror of what is happening in Syria, in Aleppo, in Mosul, in Baghdad. We here about it so often, that we are at great risk of becoming numb. I’ve had the privilege to sit down with some of the guys who have escaped. Mother Duck even more so. It’s not until you sit down with them, hear their stories, look at the pictures on their phones – some mundane and some dramatic, and even see the scars where bullets have torn through their flesh; it’s not until then that you realise how close the conflict feels. It’s only one person away.
For the life of me, I have hard time understanding the attitudes of some people who are against these folks having a safe haven somewhere quiet where they think about trying to heal and rebuild, and make a new, safe home for their families.
It was watching “White Helmets” on Netflix which threw our sometimes racist attitudes into sharp relief. We might hear and see our friends, neighbours, politicians begrudging someone sanctuary, and then in the thick of, with bombs raining down, are men like Abu, who rush out to still hot rubble to drag out people who may even support Assad (yeah, the barrel bombs aren’t picky like that). They don’t check victim’s allegiance, or Visa status, they just dig in, and try to save a life. Hence their motto, “To save a life is to save all of humanity”.
The White Helmets risk their lives for complete strangers every day. 130 have died.
And we in the west put up blocks and barriers, both emotional, practical, and political. To even the children.
Seriously, would it kill us to show some kindness? Probably not.