I should be sleeping right now.. my home is quiet, really for the first time since early morning when we were up brewing coffee and packing lunches and scrambling to load backpacks and send everyone off to their various places to be, hopefully on time. Now its dark and precious sleep is drifting from each bedroom. Dreams and little snores have replaced wide-eyed silliness and gushing laughter. Yet here I am. Because I cannot. I just cannot close my eyes. Every time I do, I see Aylan. I see his father. My mind spins as I consider that the world is in the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Syria’s civil war and the rising of ISIS is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time, leaving us with more than 11 million people displaced – half of them under the age of 18.
I feel a unrest from deep in my bones to do something. Anything. I feel helpless, and that makes me sad. But – BUT – that is the illusion. That helpless feeling is what keeps us from responding to our initial gut reaction to an image like this:
Those could be my kids. They could. I didn’t wake up on American soil one cool day in November all those years ago because I was more deserving or better than or more worthy than them. I was lucky. Plain lucky that I was born into a society not currently engaged in civil war. That fortuitous fact in no way determines my worthiness as a person or theirs. Look at these children. They could be mine. They could be Emerson and Mercy if we’d been born into different circumstances. I can’t stop thinking about it.
I don’t want to be inhibited from action. I don’t want the fact that the problem seems too large to overcome my ability to do something. Anything. The only way anything ever changes is if we begin to care enough to act.
So. I am starting by learning. I am reading. I am thinking. I am praying. I am asking questions and engaging. I am pushing through the thoughts and voices that tell me I don’t know enough to talk about/feel about/do about this issue. I have the resources to educate myself and it is my responsibility to do so, because we belong to one another. We do. That isn’t rhetoric to make us feel better at the end of a hard day. These are our people, our global family.
I am learning and I am engaging in sharing what I’m learning. I am using my voice, and my platform, to share the information and to invite you all to join me in this effort. Come with me. Let yourself feel the injustice of it. I know its hard and uncomfortable. I know its awful not to have an anecdote to offer to make it all seem less bad. It is bad. It is so so bad. Let it be okay that that is true.
What can we do? Now that we are learning and open and feeling – what can we do with all that energy? Start here. See what sticks out, what gets you excited. See what your heart beats faster at, where you mind starts to connect dots and arrange networks of those paths, people, connections you may already have access to in your life. Rally your people. Give. Pray. Advocate. Petition. Let yourself be part of the effort.
We belong to each other. If I were on the other end of this story, I know how very desperately I would you to believe that were true. Stay in the story because it is real life. Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Tomorrow the kids and I will wake up and drive to Target and we will take this list with us:
**ITEMS TO SEND for SYRIAN REFUGEES on GREEK ISLAND OF LESVOS:
Sneakers, gym shoes for men, women and children (all sizes) are a HIGH PRIORITY
Sweatpants of all sizes.
Briefs/underwear for men, women and children (all sizes)
Men’s trousers (small, medium and large) and shoes
Baby powder milk
Any non-perishables like nut butters or other long-lasting foods.
Plastic to cover the floor/for shade
Mats (camping or yoga mats)
Hats and caps for sunshade (adults and children/light colours because of the sun)
Electric Plug for multiple devices (european voltage)
We will walk the aisles and fill our cart with items to help a family half a world away. We will talk about this family and we will probably cry a little (or a lot.) We will wrap these things up and we will put them in a box, then we’ll drive to our post office and send them, along with cards and a lot of love, to an unnamed family waiting on a island, homeless, placeless, without identity or certainty. But my prayer is that when they open this box, they will know that they exist and they are seen and that they matter.
Thank God we have the chance to wake up in the middle of this crisis. It is not too late for us! We still have time to be a part of a beautiful story of hope and redemption and turing the story on its head – this isn’t a tragedy. YET. But we have to do something. Anything.
** If you would like to mail items from this list as well, here is the official mailing address:
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna
℅ The Captain’s Table
Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece