A Palestinian and Israeli Response to the Refugee Crisis
This week, a single photo of three year old Aylan Kurdi moved the world to take notice of a crisis that has actually been ongoing for years. There are now over 11 million Syrian refugees, with more Syrians displaced than not, making this the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Here are some reflections from 6 of our bloggers.
Goody Two Shoes
I can not stop wars.
I can not change governments.
I can not make bad people good.
I can not save people at sea.
I can not fix the wrongs and injustice.
I can try to imagine what it is like to be a refugee and homeless.
I can think with compassion and mercy.
I can pray.
I can speak out.
I can give to others who have already taken up the baton to help care in practical and necessary ways for the refugees.
BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Answer: Micah 6 v. 8
“He has told you O man what is good; What does the Lord require of you?
Do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”
And I will add: Give generously to those that have nothing.
http://www.shepherd-society.org/donate.html (mark donations to Shepherd Society for Syrian/Iraqi refugees)
Seeing your body on the shore moved me. It isn't where you are supposed to be, lying down motionless instead of playing with sand with your brother and parents. Your death made your existence alive and makes me want to know more about your situation. I have more questions than answers about the situation of those who share your experience in Syria.
Who are the Kurds?
What is it like to be Kurdish in your context?
Why were you running for your life? Aren't you a Muslim?
I am sure your family had no other choice but to risk losing you. What can be done about it so that others won't resort to such means?
Your picture made me think of the refugees in my family that had to run for their lives in 1948. We were internally displaced and became refugees in our own homeland. How many others did not survive and how many families were separated due to man-made wars?
How many Aylans have gone without anyone caring or knowing about them? Humanity is good at creating death through wars, but there is life in the midst of that death. We must keep your experience alive. We have to bear the responsibility of your death to help others by thoughts, words and actions. I ask myself, how does seeing your picture change my response to the crisis in Syria?
Are you grace in this graceless region that spits children up to be washed on random shores, as if just resting from a game in the sand?
Are you goodness as people’s dreams of a better life are shattered when turned back to relive their horrors over again?
Are you peace as anxious hearts scramble for another chance aboard crowded trucks and trains, or as boats crash against the rocks?
Are you restoration in the midst of the ruined streets of Homs or Aleppo or Yarmouk?
Are you love as people tear each other apart, claiming to do it in your name?
Are you hope in the eyes of a child who has seen their entire world shaken-losing family, friends and home?
Aylan, your lifeless body lying in a cold endless rest represents
what should never be,
what never should have been.
Aylan, you could have been someone I know.
Your toothy grin is so much like my baby’s.
I see her expression in your squinted eyes.
When next she does this,
I will see your expression in hers.
Aylan, the depth of your sorrow and tragedy reach all who see you,
all who now know your name.
Aylan, you have become the symbol of your people’s suffering
you are a reminder of how we have failed you,
and so many others.
Aylan, may your memory be a blessing to all who knew you,
to all who love you still and mourn your absence.
It is the worst catastrophe that could have been prevented had human beings used their minds for constructive purposes and practiced sympathy toward others. Millions of peaceful citizens are victims of war and bloodshed. Killing people will never solve our chronic problems; the only way is through reconciliation where bridges are built and goodwill prevails.
If I were a decision maker, I would renounce the senseless killings and sufferings of my people, of your people, and do my best for the benefit and welfare of my fellow human beings. Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya need hundreds of years to be rebuilt, to restore all that has been lost. All is because of human greed.
I know that at this point there is not much we can do in terms of practicality, but I believe we all need to give and know how to give generously. We can educate our children in non-violence in our homes, schools and community. We can raise a generation of peacemakers rather than a generation of killers and weapon holders.
My heart cries for every refugee in all countries. My heart weeps when I see these angels killed for no reason. We are all God's great creation and no one deserves to end any life for human or greedy reasons.
What will it take for the nations of the world to awaken from their slumber of self-centered apathy toward those who seek asylum, those whose religion, language, skin color, education is not the same as theirs? This week we saw the power of one photograph. It looked like nothing more than a sweetly sleeping child, but for the waves lapping his cheek. It was not the oceans of ink or the boat loads of nameless people coming to their shores, or even the rotting corpses of abandoned refugees that caused the world to rouse itself from slumber this week. One child became a symbol for the tens of thousands of refugees who leave their lands, homes and families for unfriendly and unfamiliar places. They only want to live away from violence, poverty and war. For the majority of those who live in the "safe and prosperous" lands, these streams of dispossessed people pose an economic challenge that threatens their comfortable way of life. More than borders, hearts are closed to the suffering, constantly chronicled in mass media, of those who flee for refuge.
This week one small child's photograph opened a crack in the hardened heart of nations. Perhaps the conscience of the world will come awake, and borders will open to receive the many who risk death to live free from war and violence. As those who know our God, in whose image all of humanity is created, we pray to our Father and raise our voices to our governments to open the gates of our lands and our hearts.