All wars produce confusion—for chaos, nothing else comes close—but even the most brutal contests produce a glimmer of hope, or at least some sense of what is driving people to put their lives on the line. Yet to outsiders, 6 years of revolution and war in Syria might appear to have produced mostly villains, along with refugees and numbing images of suffering on a blasted landscape that recalls Stalingrad.
Enter the White Helmets. Ordinary Syrians emerged from the dust that hangs over the rubble of cities like Aleppo, double-timing it into some of the most dangerous places on earth to do what the world has refused to do—save Syrian lives.
Every time the White Helmets scramble toward the sound of bombs, those heroes of Aleppo reassert the quality that will finally end the war—a unifying national identity that has seemed lost to the sectarian bigots or regional rivals that are pulling their country apart.
The White Helmets go out, of course, for one another, but because they so badly want the world to see what they see, they also post images and video of it online, via Twitter and Instagram and other social media.