When threatened we withdraw. We look at the world in terms of us and them. We look for someone, or a group of someones, to blame.We sense the sharks are circling. Why do we feel this way and why are we turning our backs on the world more and more?
In 2008 a crisis that hit us, our families, and our friends very personally. In months trillions of dollars were lost after banking and insurance corporations fell to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Some very wealthy people wanted to make even more money than they had and their recklessness caused a catastrophe that resulted in millions of people losing jobs in manufacturing, construction, and threw huge numbers of our workforce into work that was temporary and precarious.
In Sierra a government refused to acknowledge the demands from it’s citizens for reform and that led to a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and caused a tsunami of refugees that numbered in the millions. In countries on the Continent of Africa we have seen the stories of genocide, religious persecutions ,girls being abducted to serve as slaves to marauding war lords, child soldiers drugged and sent out to kill, famine on a scale that is biblical, and death in numbers that beggars the imagination. In South and Central America narco traffickers and warlords enslaved women and girls as sex slaves, killed men and boys in horrific public ways, created an economic crisis that threatened the ability of people to feed themselves and their families. And to add insult to injury when they escaped to a country that proclaims the dignity of human life to the world, their children were taken away from them in a cruel game of political advantage. We have seen acts of terrorism in places we thought we never thought we would often by people who look like the majority.
During his election campaign, and his term so far as President of he United Staes, Donald Trump has continually pointed at Mexicans, Hispanics, and Muslims as a threat. In Canada’s last federal elections The Progressive Conservative Party pointed to the threat of muslims and the need to have anonymous hot lines to call authorities and report suspicious behaviour. We see in the recent news that the Mayor of Toronto and London are complaining to the federal government about the need for more money for refugees and on facebook there are posts, by partisan organizations, that we worry more about immigrants than veterans.
This makes us feel unsafe and unsure. We’re already worried about keeping a job and putting food on the table while across the world we are seeing the largest refugee crisis since World War Two. We hear public statements by some in the media about refugees and immigrants being a threat. We see governments in the west close their borders and become more insular. And we see the heartache and strife of people fleeing death and famine used as a political football. We grow fearful, feel threatened, and turn away.
Why did a Toronto Police Officer recently say to someone if you can’t drive properly then go back to you own country. Some ask why are these people coming here? Why are they taking our jobs? Why don’t they fix their own countries? Why do we see fake stories on facebook about veterans ( or seniors in some cases) not getting the help they need yet refugees get free houses? More and more , in coffee shops, the media , and amongst some people In my own family I hear ”Why can’t they just go back to their own countries?”
Warsan Shire, in her book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, wrote “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Refugees who flee to Europe, The United States, and Canada do so for a powerful reason. Survival and the hope of a life for their children and loved ones beyond the teeth of the shark.
I know things are tough and people are getting more and more worried. But if your neighbours house has burned down and they need a place to stay do you turn out the lights and pretend your not home? Ask for a credit card and payment? Of course not. So why are we acting this way when whole countries are in flames? Why are we drawing away from those in desperate need when they have never needed our help more? Why are we turning out the lights and locking the door when our niegahbours house has burned down?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” For so many across the globe it’s already too late. But for families that are seeking a life free from fear, starvation, oppression, and death we need to turn the lights back on and answer the knock at the door. Otherwise we leave them to the sharks and we’re better than that. Aren’t we?\