The moving image of a five year old Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, sitting bloodied and dazed in the back of an ambulance has been widely circulated on social media. It highlights the desperate plight of the citizens of Aleppo, caught in the crossfire of an increasingly violent and vicious civil war.
The image has been compared with that of Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Bodrum beach and has renewed calls for the West to do something to stop the bloodshed. But the question is what?
Images of children wounded in NATO airstrikes resulted in widespread condemnation for the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which have proved disastrous for the citizens of those countries.
Painful images of innocence painfully lost have communicated the horrors of war in a way that words could never describe since Vietnam. Despite having witnessed lost innocence firsthand in the Balkans in the 1990s, I was still moved to tears in 2004 by the image of a bloodied Aida Sidakova climbing through the window of her school gymnasium in search of her mum following the Beslan school bombing by Islamist terrorists.
Our reaction to these images is instinctive and transcends religious or cultural divides but sadly does not endure. Tomorrow, or the next day, we will return to our lives of comfortable consumerism and forget about the difficult question of what to do in Aleppo – at least until the next image of innocence lost pricks our conscience.