Hope in Rough Waters
Our Responsibility to the Refugee Crisis
It is not lost on me that I was born in the land of privilege. My parents were not. When I go back to India and see the poverty-stricken village where my dad grew up, or the tiny house that my mom and her 9 siblings shared, I become keenly aware that this life of luxury I live could have easily not been mine. The ease to which I feed my children, put them in clean clothes every day, plan for their education and give them all the toys that no one needs — this ease comes in large part because of the soil I live on, the place I have called home all of my life. But, there is a whole world of people who were not born on a privileged land — who do not come by the comforts and ease of which I often take for granted.
Remember when we saw 3 year old Aylan’s little, lifeless body washed up on shore as a result of his parents trying to escape war? That image is seared into my mind. How I ached to pick him up and clutch him to my chest, to wrap a blanket around his body and breathe into him the life he was never given. Or Omran, the little boy all alone in the ambulance, no tears — just shock and blood. I feel the weight of the quote — “There is no such thing as other people’s children” — because they are all ours. The need and want to protect, defend, and nurture these babies feels all too real — because it is.
In an interview after Aylan’s body was found, his father, Abdullah said:
“My children were the most beautiful children in the world. Is there anybody in the world for whom their child is not the most precious thing? My kids were amazing. They woke me up everyday to play with me. What is more beautiful than this? Everything is gone.”
Isn’t that us? Isn’t that our kids? I say the same thing about my boys, and you say the same about yours. There is no difference in my existence than his, but that I was born on the kind of land that he only wished his own sons were born on.
I thought about the days or weeks leading up to their decision to leave. A husband and wife in the wee hours of the night whispering out the pros and cons of staying or leaving on this boat to give their kids a better life — a safer environment — maybe just a chance. It has never been a conversation my husband and I have ever had to discuss. Never. How brave. How courageous. How daunting and terrifying. But, as everyone on social media was posting “you have to understand that no one puts their children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” In the end, that risk was the better option. That risk was worth their lives, because the idea of staying in a war torn area was no longer life to them. There was more hope in rough waters.
Our country has always been one of those places that is a beacon of hope, a way out, a glimmer of life to so many of our global neighbors. We have been a place where broken dreams are repaired and untold stories are spoken. When we close our doors, we are turning our backs on all of this. I ache to think of all the children’s names we will never hear about because of war. For all the people who won’t wake up in a warm, cozy bed with their children safe in their arms. For all the parents with no more choices, just dead ends and dreams turned to dust. For all the lives that will be lost — the lost artists, doctors, poets, musicians, peacemakers, business owners, world changers. The lives this world will never have the privilege of knowing if we let the shadow of our fear cast further and greater than the brilliance of their light.
We may be blessed to live in the land of the privileged. But, to those who have been given much, much is required. We cannot assume this privilege exempts us, but rather, it calls us out and expects us to act on behalf of the marginalized. To not lock our doors and build our walls out of fear to those pleading for mercy, but to respond in love— doors open, hearts ready, arms extended.
As our beloved Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We must heed the words of Lady Liberty.
We must continue to be hope,
in rough waters.
*If you are interested in supporting the refugee crisis, the end of this blog post has a list of organizations you can contribute to on international, national, and local levels
Originally published at kingdomcome-lisa.blogspot.com on January 28, 2017.