You may have heard of this documentary already because it won this little award called an Oscar (Osss-qure?). I had heard about it, but it took me months to finally sit down and watch it. Don’t make my mistake. If you have 30 minutes sometime this week, have a watch. It is not only well-directed and well-edited, it is also incredibly relevant and moving.
The White Helmets is about a group of civilian volunteers called the Syria Defense Forces aka The White Helmets. The group comprises of civilians from all walks of life (former blacksmiths, teachers, accountants, etc.), who have come together because of the need for first responders in the midst of the Syrian civil war. They risk their lives daily to save other people because to them “your brother is our brother”. To them, they are in this together.
The 30 minute docu is an amalgamation of several volunteers’ experiences and perspectives. It is a perspective that we are not familiar with in our war-free, democratic, economically wealthy country. I found Mohammed Farrah’s, a volunteer member for The White Helmets, perspective to be especially enlightening. Before becoming a part of The White Helmets, he was a part of an armed group to fight. He didn’t realize the group was going to be targeting civilians, but once he found out, he left. In a war-torn country, the only options are to fight, flight, or rescue. This film was eyeopening and the empathy that I learned from watching these civilians risk their lives for others was invaluable.
If you go on IMDB, the film is rated a 7.7 out of 10. How does a film about saving humanity that won an Oscar get a 7.7 from viewers? I read the comments and it seems a lot of viewers believe that The White Helmets are secretly Al-Quaeda. In googling, I found numerous sites claiming this as well.
I think in this day and age, we need to be really careful about blindly believing whatever is on the internet. Just because someone claims something online, does not mean it is true or is based on facts. Facts are important. Here is an article about The White Helmets from Times’ reporter, Jared Malsin, who is actually in the Middle East. Snopes, a nonpartisan website that debunks internet hoaxes, found claims that The White Helmets’ links to terrorism to be untrue, as well.
If I were a member of The White Helmets, and was risking my life daily to save my friends, family, and country, I would be infuriated that people would question my motives and accuse me of being a terrorist (see how I’m using that empathy I learned?). It really is a shame people think this way. Prejudice has no place when people are fighting for their lives and their family’s lives.
“Do you know the feeling that you get when you plant a small seed and it grows into a beautiful bush? That’s how we feel that this baby is still alive…”, said about a rescued baby, presumed dead, after 16 hours under a bombed building.
Have a watch.