Human Flow


“Being a refugee … is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being.”


I watched a documentary the other evening on the refugee crisis which has been steadily escalating for years now. There are some pretty scary statistics shared and the numbers of human beings displaced is rising faster than can be safely or humanely accommodated, even by those countries willing to offer refuge.

Maha Yahya, Acting Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, shares her wisdom that  if children grow up without hope, prospects, or a way to make something of their lives, they can fall prey to exploitation, including radicalization.  “Many of them are traumatized by unimaginable losses at home.  They’re angry, frustrated, they want to make a difference in their lives… they’ve seen their homes demolished, their families killed, and there are children who themselves want to go fight.”  “They think it is a way they can get revenge for the horrors they lived through.”

Ai Wei Wei filmed this documentary in more than 23 countries at 40 of the world’s largest refugee camps, and he shares the lives of victims of conflict of every age, with both words and heartbreaking images that you will never be able to forget once seen.

I have so much respect for Ai.  My son, the artist, introduced me to his work a few years back, and I follow every move he makes very closely now. He has lived such a unique life and always highlighted social injustice with his art in ways that make it impossible to look away.


Until I watched Human Flow, my awareness was limited to the Syrian refugees, as many of them came to Canada, and their stories have been shared on the national news frequently. I interact with them in the stores, and hear many wonderful stories about how easily they have integrated into our communities.

Last month, when I started hearing about children in cages in the US, I broadened my reading and researching on the subject, as I truly couldn’t understand why anyone could or would deny children safety and care. The images I saw and the audio of the those children crying for their parents broke my heart.

As a mother, I wanted to hold them and rock and rock and shush them and tell them everything would be ok.

I understand the need for limitations and vetting and security for countries.

I understand fear of difference and how bigotry exists and blooms within society.

I even understand to a certain degree the decisions that need to be made to maintain law and order. There’s a reason I am not in charge of those decisions.

I don’t believe in borders.

Borders are a social construct designed in my opinion to separate, and that is something I find almost humorous, in relation to how I see the world.

How can an arbitrary line no one can see on the ground keep anyone in one place?

The displaced humans of the world are growing in numbers that it is not sustainable to safely manage in the near future. We need to do the work now to make space for these people, both in our countries and in our hearts.

The human spirit is strong, and while many give up due to age or fear, the strong will continue moving into and over borders, either with permission or with force, either legally or under the cover of darkness, if necessary.

And while that is frightening to many, it is reality, so the time to do the right thing, the kind thing, the human thing –  is now.


Rise Now for the Syrian Refugee Children






Photo courtesy of



CAR: do refugee children go to school?






Photo courtesy of:



Alan Kurdi lifeless body.jpg







7 thoughts on “Human Flow

  1. Niki Flow July 14, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    Human Flow has been on my queue for a while now. I am very inspired by Ai Weiwei, but I know this film will be very hard to witness. When I saw the last photo you posted of the little boy with his face in the sand, I prayed he was asleep. I saw the credit and followed it to Wiki. I learned that this is the lifeless body of 3-year old Alan Kurdi who, together with his 5-year old brother and his mother, died while trying to cross from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. My granddaughters are 5 and 3. They were just in Turkey on vacation with their parents. I see them every week via Facetime since they live across the ocean. I love seeing their smiles and singing and dancing and hearing their voices. So this image of little Alan hurt so much. No one will ever see him smile again or hear his voice. What you say about borders is true. They are fabrications meant to keep us apart, and in darkness. It feels overwhelming, but then I remember it is always, only, my choice, day-by-day. “If you and I are having a single thought of violence or hatred against anyone in the world at this moment, we are contributing to the wounding of the world” (Deepak Chopra). I have come to learn that the only way I can personally contribute to the peace of the world in a meaningful way is to take responsibility for my own thoughts, and my own inner peace. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Did not expect to share so much. Hope you don’t mind. ♥.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shannon July 15, 2018 / 7:21 pm

      I’m sorry if that pic upset you! It’s become the “image” of the crisis. Quite widely spread, but I’m sorry if it upset you. It upset me a lot…but it needs to be seen. Take care Niki!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Niki Flow July 15, 2018 / 8:10 pm

        You don’t need to apologize. My reaction is in no way your fault and I definitely was not leveling blame. I was just saying that your post hit me strongly. You couldn’t have known I hadn’t seen it. I’m grateful to you for sharing it. I read that it was one of the top 100 most influential photos of all time. I’ve been out of touch on purpose because of some big challenges in life. I have not followed the news in years, following a series of losses in my life. So I haven’t seen most news images. Yes, I agree. It needs to be seen. I’ve only recently been able to look, which is why my Thursday blog is, ” “Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go, but We’ll Get There, Together.” -or- “How I woke up to the world around me long after becoming a grandmother.” ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. calensariel July 15, 2018 / 7:01 pm

    I look forward to getting a minute to watch this video. When my best friend’s daughter Lori went down to Argentina for a mission trip a few years ago, she brought back photos of the kids there doing this exact thing, What struck me about your post most, however, was the comment about how easy it is to radicalize these kids. THAT is exactly what I’ve been telling my family is going to happen to lost kids here whose parents have been deported leaving them behind in these damn cages. But it’s going to be our government that will be radicalizing them. I can’t help wondering what for. Hitler Youth comes to mind… (Yes, I am an avowed WWII conspiracy theorist!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shannon July 15, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      I know you will like it!
      I learned a lot from it. Things I had no clue about, really.


  3. Fimnora Westcaw July 17, 2018 / 11:01 am

    There are no words. The horrors are beyond understanding. It makes me sad to know I am from a species which is so damaged, and damaging. You have courage, Shannon…. MUCH courage.


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