Tag Archives: refugees

The Season for Giving

 

Syrians

Christmas is just around the corner. This is the time of year that embodies the spirit of giving. And yet, for so many people it’s only about receiving, and their giving is limited to their immediate circle.

There is a refugee crisis happening and as we accept some displaced people into our country, the ugliness of some people is starting to show. A familiar refrain I continue to hear is “we need to help our own first”. Such concern for the woes of our society is admirable, or is it? What do these people actually do to help others in OUR society? Most of the time, absolutely nothing. They donate neither time nor money to any charitable cause.

Some of the people making these remarks have very comfortable lives, sometimes owning several houses. There they sit in their comfortable, heated homes, complaining that the people we’re helping don’t look as destitute as they expected. As if somehow they need to suffer more before “deserving” our help. Or they’ll complain that the coats that were donated (we live in a cold climate) were too expensive. Companies should only give them cheap things. They don’t deserve any better than that. How dare someone be given a $400 coat for free. Ikea is giving away furniture – what the heck! I’d like a free couch too!

It’s the “me” generation. Screw everyone else, let’s just worry about ourselves. I’d like to say I’d refuse to help these people if they ever needed it, but that’s not who I am.

It reminds me of a US state governor who voted against providing aid to another state during a disaster. When his state was hit with a similar disaster, he demanded the federal government step in and provide aid to them.  There’s a word for people like that – actually several words. Hypocrite, selfish, greedy, uncaring, cold hearted, unChristian.

It’s also ugly and disgusting.

Oh, and the comments about “helping our own first”? Some of my ancestors were aboriginals (Cree and Metis). It’s a good thing they didn’t think that way, isn’t it?

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Helping Our Own

Refugees

 

Every time I try to say something succinctly, it winds up being longer than I’d like, but here’s my opinion, which is NOT open for argument (which many people confuse as discussion):

I am not better than any of the Syrian refugees. They have as much right to shelter, food, stability, and safety, as I do. My life, my job, my family, are all because I was born in Canada. This country helped me when I needed help, provided a foster home when I needed care, and gave me the opportunity to be safe, get an education, and build a life for myself. If I had been born in Syria or Afghanistan, I probably would not be alive today.

When I think about the refugee situation, I think “there but for the grace of God go I”. All that I have today can be gone tomorrow because of civil war or an act of terrorism. Every day, I am grateful I was born here.

Compared to most people in the world, North Americans are rich with privilege, much of it just because we were lucky enough to be born in this country. Millions of children, who months ago had bedrooms and dinner tables and doctors and schools, are sleeping directly on the ground, their parents unable to secure shelter or food for them, much less healthcare or education.

We have access to education and healthcare. We have a peaceful society and programs to help us when we hit stormy waters. And we have a choice – we can share with others and help them find the peace and safety they so desperately seek, or we can turn our backs and become hateful and fearful of people of a different culture or religion.

How can you harden your heart against others, especially the children who are hungry and cold? These are families just like yours. These are mothers and father, brothers and sisters – all just trying to be safe, and to live free.

We need to be human beings, and understand that every human being has basic needs and that the lucky among us can afford to share our luck to ease suffering. Stop thinking, posting, politicizing around the idea that we just can’t help before we’ve taken care of our own people.

There is no such thing as “our own people”. Every human being is our own. Every hungry child, grieving mother, frightened husband, weary grandmother is our own. Nobody gets to pretend our world is a different world from the world that creates civil wars and bombs and hunger.

Anyone can fall at any time. It’s up to each of us to be there to catch them when they do.