Images of the dead body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi has rocked our moral consciousness. Thanks to the power of social media, the world is now paying attention to the refugee crisis which involves the lives of millions.
That the world is finally paying attention is good. Why? Because the current refugee crisis we’re now forced to confront, has been years in the making.
And, until now, the plight of displaced refugees has been largely ignored amid all the talk of dropping bombs, beheadings, and so-called shitty nuclear deals. Moreover, given our current political debate vis-a-vis immigration, anchor babies, and “acts of love” etc., the timing is impeccable as it forces us Americans, to take a long hard look at ourselves.
A few years ago, I wrote about the worldwide refugee crisis (read here). This was in 2012 and my post featured a then recently released United Nations report, According to the report by the United Nations, 2011 nad been the worst year for refugees across the globe since 2000.
Back then, an estimated 4.3 million people were newly displaced. About 800,000 of them fled their countries and became refugees (the remaining people were displaced but did not leave their countries, so they do not meet the definition of “refugee,” rather, they are considered IDPs – internally displaced persons).
The report concludes, that at the end of 2011, there were 42.5 million displaced people worldwide — more than the population of Canada.
My guess is that in the years since the release of the report, the number of refugees worldwide has doubled or possibly even tripled. That said, I imagine that there are many people who have perished while attempting to flee these war torn countries. Many of them, I suspect, were as young as Aylan Kurdi, if not younger.
You see, to pack up our family — while having very meager resources — and, migrate to another country in search of a better life is indeed an act of love. It’s really mostly an act of desperation, given the circumstances, that’s rooted in a love of family, life, liberty, and all the ideals we hold so dear in America.
Yes, you know, the stuff we promote via military action on foreign soil? Believe it or not, ironically, these are the very same reasons Aylan Kurdi’s family left their home in Syria. Plainly speaking: they wanted to fucking live. Unfortunately for the Kurdi family, Aylan Kurdi, his mother, and his five-year-old brother are dead.
As I watch the outpouring of support from westerners in response to the Syrian, Libyan, Afghanistani refugee crisis in Europe – mostly brought about by the photo of Aylan Kurdi’s dead body in the photo above – I’m reminded of a couple things.
I’m reminded of how black refugees from S. Sudan were kicked out of Israel just a few years ago. They were kicked out by the Israeli government because of the usual xenophobic, racist anti-immigrant animus that exists here in America.
I’m also reminded of how migrant children who crossed the U.S. southern border seeking a better life were ridiculed by a large portion of the American public. They were described as being diseased criminals; and, there were mobs outside of detention centers rallying for their deportation.
And of course, these were the children who wee lucky enough to survive the several months long journey from Central America into the United States. But to hear some tell it, their sole purpose for coming to America is to rob, steal, and rape Americans.
It’s funny how easy it is for certain people to call for war in opposition to diplomacy. And this is done without giving much thought about the catastrophic consequences for the children like Aylan Kurdi and many others, said policies directly affect.
As citizens of the world, and citizens of a country that champions freedom and democracy, it is incumbent upon us to do something. We may not have started the Syrian conflict in particular. However, with as many footprints we’ve left on foreign soil, we have a hand in it. And, we owe it to Aylan Kurdi; the many children like Aylan Kurdi who came before him; and, the many children like Aylan Kurdi waiting to die.
After all, children are not only our future; they’re the anchors of our legacy.