The refugee crisis and that picture

by

Scott McLeod is Associate Priest at St. George’s Anglican Church in St. Catherine’s, Ontario and coordinator of the refugee sponsorship program for the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada. He looks at that terrible picture and weeps.

On the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, he writes:

I will admit it. I am, literally, in tears as I write this.

The picture. Yes—that picture that started circulating yesterday of the 3 year old boy washed up on the beach in Turkey.

He and his family were trying to come here—to Canada. The heart strings are pulled.

My son is 3. Trying to think through everything that led to that picture is too much. The conflict in Syria. The danger and difficulty of travel, and not being able to find a safe place. The difficult choices that get made by people under tremendous pressure, faced with bad choices and even worse alternatives—and I don’t mean the refugees fleeing, I mean the civil servants and state agents enforcing policies and laws that were never designed to even start dealing with the kinds of need we are now seeing in the world. Those policies and laws that needlessly put the lives of innocents in danger, and make it safer to board an un-sea-worthy vessel in hopes of reaching a distant safe shore, rather than face a horrible and painful death. Immigration laws and systems, whether in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North or South America, were not designed for dealing with the kind of human migration that is happening, mostly due to armed conflict around the world….

…My heart bleeds, my eyes stream with tears when I think about it too long, and when I am sitting there feeling totally helpless my internal monologue consists of a sustained scream. What is wrong with the world? What is wrong with us? What, in the name of God, is going on?

Read the rest here.

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JC Fisher
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JC Fisher

Because I have no answers, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for this comment---

Everyone can understand, when there are LITERALLY bombs falling on you, literally people who will throw you off a tall building (i.e., Syria), the compelling urgency to GET AWAY.

But when you are AWAY? When you're over the border in Turkey, what exactly is the compulsion, "I want to be somewhere BETTER than Turkey"? How, generally, from the Middle East to Meso-America, does a world that has lines drawn on maps, deal with "I want to be somewhere BETTER than _____"?

I'd be interested in hearing ideas both BIG and small. No judgments. Just brainstorming. [Memory eternal, Rehan, Galib, and little Alan Kurdi. May your losses inspire us to bigger hearts AND minds.]

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Kurt Hill
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Kurt Hill

What the hell is the Seventh Fleet doing in the Med..., anyway? We pay billions for these ships. Our Navy should be helping to pull refugees out of the water. This country could afford to take a few hundred thousand people from Syria given the fact that it promoted the damned war in the first place.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

Too much to witness. Too much to fathom. Too much to bear. And yet we are asked to, over and over again. Is it time, Lord?

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

'What is wrong with the world? What is wrong with us? What, in the name of God, is going on?'"

Answers to these questions include: money, militarism, foreign adventurism, and xenophobia. The Conservative ideology in places like Canada (the Harper government) and the U.K. ( the Cameron government) are hawkish about militarism in the affected areas, refuse to take responsibility for their share in causing this crisis, and at the same time stigmatize refugees, as "swarms" for instance, to play up to domestic xenophobia. The failed Anglo-American invasion of Iraq (The current Canadian PM has now committed Canada to airstrikes in Iraq and Syria) is clearly responsible for ongoing instability in the region.

I think the questions raised above could be even more sharply focused by asking, what in the world is wrong with the governments in the countries of the so called Anglo-sphere?

What is more hopeful is the outpouring of public opinion that is at odds with with government policy, a body of opinion that hopefully is astute enough not to be manipulated by government spin on the crisis.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

So many of us are in this place - looking for places to do something about such a big issue.

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