Human Flow

 

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

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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 https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/btf-syrian-refugee-program/

 

 

CAR: do refugee children go to school?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of: https://www.coopi.org/en/car-refugee-children-go-school-2774.html

 

 

Alan Kurdi lifeless body.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47737832

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While We Were Sleeping

I really live a blessed life.

I am as entitled and privileged as any other female of my age living outside of a third world country can be.

The worst slights I have encountered in the last few years from society as a whole has been a very subtle ageism that is perhaps only a flavour of the month in my workplace, and may just settle itself in time.

This past week I have suffered greatly with the news of young black men being shot like dogs in the streets.

I cried on and off for days this past month while reflecting upon all the lives stolen away in Orlando.

In my own country, I cannot go an entire eight hour period without seeing an ignorant post about Muslims, or refugees.

Keyboard warriors posting disgusting words in relation to female politicians whose party lines they are in opposition to.

Where did our humanity go ?

When did we begin turning blind eyes to racist, misogynistic or homophobic behaviour?

To intolerance and hate for those that don’t look like us or live by our beliefs?

When did it become OK for us to shame and blame victims for crimes committed upon them?

Has it been insidiously creeping forward, under cover of darkness while we all slept soundly in our beds? Slithering into our shared consciousness like a virus?

Have we just seen so much brutality and intolerance that we have become frozen inside and simply pick up the remote control and make it go away without feeling or fully processing it?

How can it be that a gorilla receives more sympathy and concern than actual living breathing human beings murdered in the streets by those that we teach our children will protect them?

Racism is not even covert any more; it is loud and proud and very much alive on social media and in the comments sections of local newspapers.

Chants of ” I’m just telling it like it IS” ring out to cheers and “likes”.

“Go home to where you come from if you don’t want to live OUR way”, “stealing all our JOBS”, ” that bitch needs someone to take her head off with an AXE!”,” they were fags in a queer club; God hates fags.”

I have read all those and many more these past few weeks and I am so sick inside at where this world is headed to.

My challenge was to find who I look down upon and it didn’t take me long at all this time.

Those that tear down instead of giving a hand up.

Those that see colour rather than the soul inside.

Those that think some lives are worth less than other lives.

Those that feel offended by different belief systems and religions.

We were all once someone’s child, someone’s baby.

We all have to share this space and planet.

There needs to be a shift in thinking moving forward or we are most certainly doomed.

I know in my very being that there are more of us than there are of them but they are louder and angrier, more violent and vocal.

It is time for the rest of us to stand up and say, “enough”.

This will not be tolerated any more by our society.

No more.

Please.