Migrants? Minorities? Let’s Call It What It Is: The Global Refugee Crisis

UPDATE: September 10, 2015. For those who don’t get this, I’m expressing my views below for the same reason Nicholas Kristof has done so again today in his newest column, “Compassion for Refugees Isn’t Enough.” Please take time to read not only my words, but both of the Kristof columns as well.

This article will be linked to several astrological analyses coming up; but sometimes, things can’t wait to be said. This is one of those times.

In all good conscience, I don’t think I can remain silent even without a chart related to the current refugee crisis. When did it start? I don’t know! Migration is something that never stops. Refugee crises are immediate based on emergencies as they arise.

Some may see the current situation as a European migrant crisis. It’s not. Some see it as European refugee crisis. I don’t: I see it as a global refugee crisis, and it would seem Nicholas Kristof might agree with me. I discovered and read his “Refugees Who Could Be Us” today (on Sunday, when I started to write this) after I wrote the following with a few additions in reply to a few friends about…yes, the refugee (not the “migrant”) crisis. One friend used the word “minorities” instead.
This isn’t about “minorities, I said. If all of the so-called minorities of the world actually realized the power they had in being so-called minorities by seeing themselves as one united group, they would see they are actually the majority. In fact, the current majority would be the minority. And at the end of all that nitpicking, we are all still human.

We speak about the Jewish concept of humanitarianism in recognizing that we are–first and foremost–human. It is, after all, the driving force of every Israeli doctor who doesn’t check to see if his/her patient is a Jew or a Sabra, a person who has made Aliyah–or an Arab, an Iranian, or a Palestinian before saving his/her life.

Art by Luisa Villavincencio Aliaga

Art by Luisa Villavincencio Aliaga

We speak about Hinduism and the Sanskrit words, Vasudhaiva kutumbakam, “the whole world is a family,” and we hear the same vein of thought as many of us were raised to believe.

But isn’t there a paradox in that knowledge that we’re all family? No matter where we turn, we are human–at our best and at our worse. Many among us forget these words about the world being a family and look only at themselves as somehow better than others outside the groups to which they belong.

I come from a mixture of races, cultures, creeds, religions, national origins, traditions… Even the cuisines with which I was raised are different from those with which you were raised. I share some with you, but most definitely not all. I know this because I am a mix. To some, my being a mix makes me somehow less than they are. To me, it says very simply “I am me.”

It’s taken me a long time to accept myself as that square peg trying to fit into a round-holed world, and sometimes it’s still painful. Most of the time, I’m grateful for the difference. It makes me unique.

I’m grateful to my ancestors for that precious gift of life because it has enabled me perhaps to do more in my life than I could if I were only fitting into the same basic groups as some others. The basics? I’m a human heterosexual female. I live, breathe, eat, sleep, and work on various projects. I laugh and cry, love and try not to hate, and I have the wretched human condition of making mistakes that remind me how very human I am.

Beyond that? I don’t think I could list all the groups–and frankly, I doubt anyone else could about themselves either! You know what? Thank heaven for that!

We have a world crisis again, just as the world saw during World War II (WWII). I cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on now because some nations did so in WWII. I can also not turn a blind eye and call this a “migrant” crisis when it’s still about refugees seeking safety in distant foreign lands. These people have fled to Europe because these are the lands they recognize as safety nets. It’s been an arduous journey for most of them.

We Refugees
©Benjamin Zephaniah

I come from a musical place
Where they shoot me for my song
And my brother has been tortured
By my brother in my land.

I come from a beautiful place
Where they hate my shade of skin
They don’t like the way I pray
And they ban free poetry.

I come from a beautiful place
Where girls cannot go to school
There you are told what to believe
And even young boys must grow beards.

I come from a great old forest
I think it is now a field
And the people I once knew
Are not there now.

We can all be refugees
Nobody is safe,
All it takes is a mad leader
Or no rain to bring forth food,
We can all be refugees
We can all be told to go,
We can be hated by someone
For being someone.

I come from a beautiful place
Where the valley floods each year
And each year the hurricane tells us
That we must keep moving on.

I come from an ancient place
All my family were born there
And I would like to go there
But I really want to live.

I come from a sunny, sandy place
Where tourists go to darken skin
And dealers like to sell guns there
I just can’t tell you what’s the price.

I am told I have no country now
I am told I am a lie
I am told that modern history books
May forget my name.

We can all be refugees
Sometimes it only takes a day,
Sometimes it only takes a handshake
Or a paper that is signed.
We all came from refugees
Nobody simply just appeared,
Nobody’s here without a struggle,
And why should we live in fear
Of the weather or the troubles?
We all came here from somewhere.

I read somewhere today that in the last few years, something like ±5000 have died while fleeing to safety in other lands. My heart breaks. Not one should have lost a life.
And Aylan and the unnamed other children shouldn’t have been among the dead either.

Now I thought I was done with this post. But as I sat here, writing the newsletter tonight, I watched Charlie D’Agata from CBS-TV interviewing a teen he recognized from Aleppo, Syria after his safe arrival (at last) in Germany apparently via Turkey. The German government has set aside billions for the arrival of the refugees, and I found myself captivated by the interview.

The 16-year-old boy spoke in perfect English with a barely perceptible accent, and Dagata asked him what “normal” means to him. The boy answered calmly and with hope-coated words. While I can’t quote him verbatim because I was too fascinated with the interview, I heard him say, “”I’m safe right now. It was so hard because you’re leaving home, you’re leaving your family, all your memories behind. You start all over again. A normal life, you have a home, you go to school, you have your mom, your mom cooking, yelling at you.” I confess. That tugged at my heart.

Namaste, I love you.

©2015 Michelle Young