“And usually, if we’re really quiet, or loud, or indifferent, or just don’t do anything to help, we can find the ghost of the ongoing conflict in Syria haunting the halls of our parliament.” The tour guide rises dramatically onto his tiptoes as he leads the third group of the day into a marble-floored atrium in the Centre Block of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.
Sure enough, standing there in the open, is a tired looking ghost.
“Hello ghost of Syria present,” The guide greets with forced bonhomie, “how are we today?”
The ghost turns to the group, some of whom are looking uncomfortable, others confused, and still others skeptical that he is indeed a real ghost.
“Hello Jim, I’m about the same as usual, thanks for asking. Stuck in this building, rattling the doorknobs of the Canadian cabinet, repeating the horrifying acts being committed in my country to Trudeau when no one is around. Generally making people uncomfortable, but unfortunately not enough to act just yet.”
The tour guide turns to the group and in a stage whisper tells them that the ghost is usually a lot less of a downer. “Sometimes he tells jokes, and poses for selfies with the kids.”
“No I don’t.” The ghost responds, and begins informing the gathered tourists that there is, of course, nothing funny about standing aside while Russia and Iran prop up a dictator who is visiting atrocities on his own citizens, while the west stands aside because those suffering the privation and brutality are far away, and of a different religion from many in Europe and North America. The group moves on then, some reluctantly, most hurriedly. As they go the guide, Jim, assures them that there is no need to feel guilty.
“I read somewhere that Assad is probably better than whatever comes next. I’m sure it’s not as bad as the ghost is making it out to be. I hear a lot of those pictures from Aleppo are photoshopped, and really, what business is it of ours if other people had the bad luck to be born not here. Anyhoo, lets move on.”