60 Million People?

Have you been following the refugee crisis in Europe at all? I have. For some reason I’m as fascinated by it as I am repulsed.

What got to me yesterday was the image they showed of a small boy’s dead body washed up on shore after the boat he’d been on sunk. (According to this article he was three-years-old.) I think I first saw it on the Nightly News with Lester Holt, but now it’s gone viral.

At first I was mortified they had aired such an image.

Then I thought it was perhaps the best thing they could do. What’s more powerful to make us care than a tiny sneaker-clad tot’s drowned body?

In our visual age, it’s not enough to hear about something. We need to see it. Only when we see the innocent lives being lost will we realize that but for the luck of chance, it could be us having been born into such a hostile time, place, and circumstance.

We take so much for granted in the U.S. Like the fact that we’re one, big country that for the most part gets along. We’re separate states with our own quirks and cultures, but we’re “one Nation…indivisible…”

Other than the Civil War, we’ve never turned on each other. Bombed or attack one another. Mercilessly slaughtered each other and drove ourselves out of our homes.

We live pretty harmoniously over here.

Basically. There certainly have been race relation tensions, especially as of late, but compared to the Syrian crisis and the mass murder and exodus of people in and from that country? We’re sitting around a freaking campfire singing kumbaya over here!

Then I was watching the PBS Newshour last night. They showed what life is like for Syrian refugees now crowding into European cities who are trying to figure out what to do with them all.

Gwen Ifill interviewed Nancy Lindborg, President of the United States Institute of Peace, and Astrid Ziebarth of the German Marshall Fund. The two points they mentioned that blew my mind were:

  1. This is the largest migration of people since World War II.
  2. Nancy Lindborg said refugees and those seeking asylum in Europe are on pace to double from what came in a year ago, and 60 million people have been displaced from their homes, making it the largest ever in history. (Not all of them have made it to Europe. Some are still in their countries, just not in their own homes.)

Upon reflection today, I wasn’t sure I’d heard that stat correctly so I went back to track down the episode. Sure enough, that’s what she’d said.

60. Million.

Say what?!

When I heard it last night I looked around my cozy air-conditioned living room with the roof over my head and lights keeping the dark at bay. At my comfy couch I was sprawled out on. At my refrigerator stocked with food that I could help myself to any time I wanted. To the bathroom with its running water. And the laundry room, which houses the means for me to perform my least favorite housekeeping duty.

Yet, if I didn’t have access to a way to keep my family’s clothes clean I’d be cursing that. And what if I was crammed into a makeshift camp crowded with others in impossible uncomfortableness, hunger permeating our thoughts, despair filling our hearts?

Well, I’d probably be doing what I imagine a lot of those people are doing. Trying to keep it all together but wondering how did my life end up like this and would I ever know normalcy, stability, and happiness again?

So tonight I’m counting my blessings that even though I just got news our house has a termite infestation, it can be fixed. I have a house to come home to. To live in. To dream in, eat in, make love in, be safe in.

%d bloggers like this: