I don’t write about current events much, if at all. By the time I’ve read enough to be informed and develop coherent thoughts on the matter, almost everyone else on the Internet has already weighed in, often articulating my points but in much more eloquent ways. As I’ve written before, I’ve determined that, for me personally, I’d prefer not to engage in conversations about contentious issues online–not because they don’t matter, or because I don’t have thoughts and opinions, but because it’s so easy to forget the human behind the words.
The Syrian refugee crisis is different though.
There is much I don’t understand about it–how it started, why it’s all of a sudden become much worse (or, at the very least, only now started getting massive amounts of attention), what all the complex political and logistical matters are–but I can understand that people are in need. People are homeless and countryless, fleeing with only the essential belongings and the hope they’ll find something better. They are undertaking dangerous journeys with no guarantee of where they may end up. And some of them are, quite literally, dying trying.
I have tried to put myself in their shoes, and I can’t even begin to fathom it. What would I take with me? Would I have the financial resources and official papers to go? How would it feel to stand in line, hoping authorities would let me on a train, and hoping that when–or if–I reached my destination they’d let me in?
What would it be like to have to start my life over in a place I didn’t really want to be, with only what I had taken with me, without many of the people I love?
From my place of privilege, these are questions I’ve never even thought of, and certainly have never been anywhere close to having to face the answers.
For millions of people though, this is their reality.
Unlike many news stories, I don’t think there’s any controversy over the fact that people need help. While the issue is massive and complicated and messy, there are things I can do. These are the 3 small actions I’m taking to begin getting involved:
- Donate. There are many organizations helping refugees (and some scams as well, I’m sure), and while it doesn’t feel like much to click a few buttons to donate some money, that money translates into real, physical resources to meet the needs of real people. I chose World Relief.
- Listen. It’s so easy for me to change the radio station or click on a different article when the refugee crisis comes up, but I don’t want to avoid the sad stories anymore. Some of them are hard to hear, but they are true and they matter. I wish no one knew who Aylan Kurdi was, not because he doesn’t matter, but because he matters so much; no one’s son should go viral because of his tragic, untimely death. His life matters, as do the lives of all the other refugees. So I’ll read the stories, of the beautiful moments as well as the tragic.
- Speak up. This post is one way of doing that, and urging the government to do more is another. Using hashtags to spread the message of #WeWelcomeRefugees feels small, and if that’s all we do it’s true that it’s not much, but it can be a part of something larger. Several organizations have come together to start WeWelcomeRefugees.com, which will be updated regularly with more ways to get involved.
In many ways these action steps still feel insignificant. I’m not physically handing people food and water, I don’t have the means to house refugees coming to the US, and I’m not involved in government to make large, sweeping changes.
But this is something. And small steps can create big movements.
Til next time…
p.s. How are you getting involved?