The last few days I have been so disheartened. Sad. Angry. I’m having trouble finding my usual positive thinking, happy-go-lucky self. This blog has always been a safe place for me. A place to share the good things in life. A place to show others that they too can grab hold of their dreams, and live that life they imagine.
But this week, I don’t feel like that person. I walk down the street in a daze, reflecting on our world in deep, troubling sadness. Today I am not sharing my latest adventure or cultural mishap, because honestly I just don’t have that in me right now.
Over the last year, the refugee crisis has grown to unforeseen levels. Living in Folkestone, only a 30 minute trip from Calais on the Eurotunnel, I saw first-hand the fear and uncertainty of those around me.
Fear of these war-torn and desperate people who have risked everything to find a safe place for their families. I saw the backlash when our town allowed some of these families to stay in a local hotel (a fleabag hotel I should mention), as using tax-payer money for “those people” was just too much for them to comprehend. I saw people scoffing at those who gathered donations, who went out of their way to give a little comfort to someone with nothing left in the world but hope.
It has gotten so much worse.
Recently I have had to make some hard decisions – Facebook is the only way I am able to stay connected with my old friends and extended family back home. But after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Lebanon and around the world, I find myself overwhelmed by anti-Islamic sentiments, racism, and ignorant attacks on the refugees who are running from the same evil.
I have had to let go of many people I love, because by allowing their misplaced views to show up in my space over and over again, I began to feel like I was accepting it in a way.
I am in disbelief that people who I have always respected for their beliefs, for their mission trips to help the poor, for their compassion… are the same people now supporting the politicians who want to turn away those refugees who so desperately need our help.
Why are we roping the victims of war, and their nightmares, into the same little box?
Now is not the time to start dehumanizing out of fear. With all the evil in the world right now, we need to stick together. We need to lift each other up. I understand that people are scared, that they want justice, but this is not who we are.
Where is the love for our fellow human? Those children running from the gunfire in Syria are no different than the ones playing in your backyard. These men who seek refuge are not born and bred terrorists out to get you.
I truly understand the fear. That one of those refugees may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing – but the same case could be made for your neighbor.
I was talking to my mom yesterday and I could hear the fear in her voice. She is worried about me living in London, a big city with a target on its back. I reassured her that I was as safe here as anywhere, and that I would be mindful of what goes on around me.
Whether or not London is the safest place to be, I understand where she is coming from. Everyday that The Dutchman jumps on the train to his job near Tower Bridge, I find myself brushing off a little of my own fear. There is so much unknown, but we can’t let these assholes get in the way of our lives. We can’t let them get inside our heads. And we most definitely can’t let their actions lead us to hate.
My heart hurts for those lives lost in Paris. For those lives lost in Beirut. For those lives lost in Baghdad. For the countless lives lost around the world to the misguided ideologies of terrorists.
Every life is precious, and equal, and as deserving of our sorrow.
We have an opportunity this very moment to be on the right side of history, and we have walked this same path so many times over. I pray with every ounce of my being that for once, we choose the path of love.