This Boy's Name Is Omran. | Gradient

This boy’s name is Omran.

His name, according to CNN, is Omran. He’s four, or maybe five. He’s covered with dust and blood — his own or someone else’s, it’s hard to say. His home has just been bombed, and he was the first to be pulled from the rubble, and he clung to his rescuer like a life raft. His mother, father, sister and brother soon followed. They all survived, thankfully. Others —thousands of others — have not been so lucky. Omran lives in Appelo which has spent years being besieged during Syria’s civil war.

These are the snippets of war that make it into our homes now. The days of live news coverage is largely over since news stations can’t bring regular coverage to a Syrian civil war that’s stretched on for years and shows no signs of resolution. Our coverage is limited to the lucky shot — the tearful image that garners headlines like “an important reminder” and “heartbreaking.”

And it is an important reminder, but a reminder of what? That war is hell? That the most helpless among us are the most likely to be affected? That millions of children all over the world spend their lives surrounded by violence they will never recover from, even if they’re fortunate enough to survive it? Worthwhile things to think about, all.

But soon the talk will turn back to how best to keep refugees like Omran and his family out, if we talk about refugees at all. For the most part, we won’t think about them. We may talk about refugees in the abstract, using code words like “borders” and “safety,” and then the talk will get heated, and we’ll debate numbers and terrorism, Clinton and Trump, policy and practicality. We’ll hear about “illegal immigrants” — a term so vast it means almost nothing anymore — and we’ll hear statistics. And the millions and millions of smudged faces will blur together into a sea of humanity that we treat like math equations.

But his name is Omran.

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To get his new album Cold Answer, (which features the three songs from him you heard on this episode), visit

Subscribe on iTunes.

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