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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

You don't Need Words


 "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 tost to me,
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

               The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
               Most people do not leave their home unless they have a good reason for doing so - barrel bombing, devastated neighbourhoods, closed schools, no food, no water, no electricity - all sound like good reasons for leaving. Good enough to keep entire families on the move, on treacherous waters and precarious roads for days, weeks, months with babies, toddlers, the aged, and the sick.
             While I was busy fretting over my kid's first day back at school, a three-year-old boy's body washed up on shore and into the view of so many of us. His father was going to return to Syria. He had no reason left for going on.
              Charlie Hebdo, made cartoons about the boy- cartoons that were meant to mock the Europeans for their complacency, their hypocrisy, but which failed to convey either, and only came across as mocking the plight of many who have been suffering for so long and continue to suffer while the rich nations of the world wring their hands and pretend to care.
            At least, the Hungarians have the honesty to admit that they don't want refugees who are Muslim. Europe is for Christians. Makes sense. That's why Turkey, who admitted 2 million Syrians, was never allowed into the EU.
          I grew up with refugees around me. Afghani refugees in Pakistan. I heard the adults at dinner parties complaining about the refugees. Pakistan's economy wasn't the strongest even back then, we couldn't afford to take on so many hungry mouths, they complained, while feasting on the multitude of dishes always set out at these social events. And at every other street corner, Afghans went through the garbage looking for food.
          Ironically, many of these adults were the offspring of refugees; refugees who crossed the arbitrary line dividing India and Pakistan in August 1947, leaving behind them their homes, their belongings, their lands, and worst of all, many loved ones.
          I am "just" a housewife. I don't bother about world affairs. Seems to me, that they are enough men out there, who bother about little else. It gives them an excuse not to think about problems closer to home. But I do care about children. And I do care about the sick. And I do care about people going hungry while millions are wasted on arms and ammunition. And I do care that while countries have money to spend on building their military arsenal, and money to spend on the bureaucracy needed to keep refugees out, they don't have money to spend on taking refugees in.
            So then, go tear down the statue of liberty and remove that beautiful inscription, and in it's place put up barbed wires, a gun, and couple of grenades. You won't need words to get the message through.
            And Mr. Harper, (though you will never read this) the elections are coming and I will vote, as always. I do read, and I do listen, and I will vote for whichever party shows the most heart. I gave up on the human mind a while back.

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