Empathizing with Baba Amr (wherever that is)

If you have been following the news out of Syria, there’s some awful stuff happening in the Baba Amr neighborhood of the city of Homs.

But where is Homs?  Could you picture it on a map?  How many people live there?

And where is the Baba Amr neighborhood?

If we can’t picture the place, I think it’s easy to read an article about Syria without slowing down to empathize. Try it — read these sentences, excerpted from this lead article in Friday afternoon’s New York Times about Syria:

…unconfirmed reports [said] that Syrian security forces were conducting house-to-house searches and summary executions in the neighborhood, Baba Amr, while the convoy of seven Red Cross trucks was parked at the edge of the neighborhood, where military sentries refused to grant it entry despite having received official approval 24 hours earlier. It was unclear why the Syrian military had blocked the convoy.

Got that picture? There is a convoy of seven Red Cross trucks filled with food and medical supplies for people who have been sealed off from the rest of the city for nearly a month. Children are starving and there are no well-equipped hospitals.

The military is in complete control of the area, and the military is refusing to let in the convoy — possibly because the military is going house-to-house so it can kill people in Babr Amr.

Why would Syria do this? To teach the folks in Baba Amr a lesson — quit protesting and calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

If you are having trouble picturing Baba Amr, it’s not your fault — the US media is doing a poor job of helping us empathize.

Here’s a seven minute video I just made that may help — it’s an example of how Google Earth can help us slow down and better empathize with people half way across the world — it’s a lesson that when we hear about awful things going on in Baba Amr, we should wonder where it is…

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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2 Responses to Empathizing with Baba Amr (wherever that is)

  1. Bo Adams says:

    Steve, thanks for teaching me how better to use tools for empathy and world understanding. I want to start reading with Google Earth as you do.

  2. Pingback: CHANGEd: What if we used reading and Google Earth as spingboards for interdisciplinary, global empathy? 60-60-60 #54 « It's About Learning

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