Hope Amidst Ruins: The White Helmets of Syria

 

The outbreak of conflict in Syria has resulted in one of the world’s most bleak situations in the twenty-first century. As the war has progressed for over five years from what was initially a botched peaceful movement for political reform. While my previous blog has a much more detailed look into the historical context behind the ongoing Syrian Civil War this citation from Time properly illustrates the escalation from the Arab Springs to the international crisis the world sees today:

“But as the crowds scattered for cover and, before long, took up arms themselves, what steadily enveloped the conflict was not so much the fog of war as its miasma. Opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad shattered into more than 1,000 armed groups. The most successful gathered under the banner of jihadism, either al-Qaeda or eventually ISIS, its even more repugnant spin-off. There’s nothing to like there. Then the neighbors started in, sending guns or money or troops—Iran, Russia, Hizballah, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and finally the U.S.”

But despite the apparent devastation my research into the Syrian Civil Defense Force has brought a glimmer of light into an abyss of despair. The Syrian Defense Force have been active as of 2013 and have been named “The White Helmets” for the now iconic helmets the 3,000 volunteers don as they rush towards scenes of destruction and chaos in an attempt to save lives and bring hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. These rescuers are not trained professionals but rather tailors, store clerks, teachers, etc. and regardless of their status prior to the outbreak of conflict the organization formed under a single motto from the Quran: “Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity.”

Typical analysis of situations such as the Syrian Civil War is taken at the international scale and is done from a fairly objective point of view, one that favors objective facts and politics over personal struggle, culture, and individuality. Most news reports regarding the battered nation simply report the destruction, the international interference of foreign nations, and the activities of terror cells birthed from the conflict and rarely take an insightful look into the lives of the innocent people who suffer from the consequences of the warring parties. My research into Syria’s historic and cultural background has provided a richer context for the cause of this war but it is my analysis of the NetFlix documentary, The White Helmets that has truly proved to be the a very interesting glimpse into the lives of those that simply wish to help others in such trying times rather than attempting to push forward some sort of political agenda.

The most surprising discovery I had regarding my research is the rather humanitarian aspect of the current effort to preserve the degrading nation of Syria. I had initially intended to solely focus on the deep historical roots of Syria and how this can contribute to the nation’s eventual restoration but what I discovered upon my viewing of The White Helmets is how the strong will and hope of those within a destroyed nation can also aid in restoring these current ruins. The volunteers that make the Syrian Defense Force and the religious values that have became a staple of the organization represent how national pride and rich culture are vital to the stability of a nation such as Syria.