I normally keep my political views offline …. but… I feel a need to be speaking out on behalf of those for whom many in the world are so quick to judge at the moment, and for whom many want to turn their backs on.
I wasn’t out in Paris on Friday night celebrating my birthday at one of my favourite restaurants near the Bataclan because I’ve been home sick. The bug I picked up a few days earlier in Germany, found its way to me in a room with seven hundred people who had just endured a torturous trek through the cold, wet, soggy fields of the Balkans to get to one of the few countries in the world currently offering them safety.
One hundred and ninety of the seven hundred were young children and small, small babies. People carried everything they now possessed in plastic bags. Mothers carried those babies with tired arms — through Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, trying to get them away from the same barbarians that wrought havoc on Paris and destroyed so many beautiful lives last Friday/Saturday. One young couple, twenty two years old and newlywed, had fled Syria for safety. The boat in which they had crossed rocky waters from Turkey to Greece aboard, had forty six people on it when it set out — sixteen of those people never made it alive to dry land.
I came home to France after a weekend in the company of these men, women and children and was able to make a cup of tea, take a hot shower, crawl into a warm bed. Those seven hundred people in the room with me in Germany didn’t have that option. Some were ill, more-so than I would be. One family had been separated from their baby, the little one so ill he had been hospitalized. They were exhausted. They had lost all their dignity. They kept their coats on despite how hot it was in the airless room as they were accustomed to running for their lives and not having time to gather things. They kept their coats tightly closed as they were ashamed and embarrassed at the state of their clothes underneath, and the fact that they hadn’t showed for days, weeks. They have no place to go to seek comfort, feel better, make tea, crawl into a warm bed.
Those that had family in Europe and funds to get to them, were cared for at the station overnight. Those that had nothing were bused out to camps around Germany. Camps. In Germany. It is not a choice to end up in a camp in Germany. It wasn’t during the second world war, and it isn’t now. In the 1940’s people were transported to camps against their will. In 2015 they are taken to camps as they have nowhere else to go. They are cared for with incredible kindness and compassion, and if I were German, I’d be deeply proud of the actions of my country in looking after the refugees. That said, the truth is — these folks that some of the world doesn’t want — they’d rather be at home in a war-less country.
So, when people say we need to look after our homeless first, or state governors announce they won’t take Syrian refugees, or presidential candidates declare there should be a religious test for people wanting to live in the US, I say, stop being so hurtful. The people sleeping in the freezing cold fields of eastern Europe right now, aren’t simply homeless — they’re everything-less. They have no home. No country. Their loved ones have been raped and murdered, their cities torn down. They are fleeing from a fascist totalitarian regime who would like to slaughter all of us.
For society to look the other way and declare them unwanted because of their country of origin and their religion, is nothing short of shameful.
Next week, along with friends from Paris, I will be back in Germany. You can bet your life on it that we will hug as many people as possible that arrive on those trains. We will hold their hands and tell them they are welcome. For together, through kindness, the douchebags that are Daesh will not be able to impose their bigoted views on those of us that are smarter in head …. and heart.