This morning I woke up in my warm double bed. I got up and looked through my masses of clothes, I then rooted through all the food in the cupboards trying to decide what I fancied for breakfast. I said goodbye to my brother, father and mother as they happily went off to school and work, I then drove to my nan’s house (equally as warm and full of clothes and food) with my sister and her boyfriend and rooted through the cupboards there too before filling the kettle and using the toilet. We spent an hour chatting and complained about all the minor things we had to do that were stressing us out. I then went shopping, strolling down the street texting all my friends who are off doing things similarly to me. Life passed me by just like any other day.
I’m not saying I’m particularly well off, in fact I’m far from it. My family struggle just like millions of other families do, and I have learned to appreciate the value of money. However, every night I have a roof over my head and every morning there is food in my kitchen. I had an upbringing full of magical stories and instead of my ears being filled by the sounds of bombs and gunfire I listened to wind chimes twisting in the wind excitedly guessing that it could only be fairies. The only dust that covered my face would have been flour from baking with my nan and cuts and bruises would have been from the hundreds of adventures I went on with my brother and sister. These adventures were always fun, and at the end of the day we would always come home to cuddles, warmth and someone to kiss the cuts better. Whenever we waved goodbye to our mum, we did so with smiles on our faces because in a matter of hours when the sun went down we would be back to her again.
However, somewhere on the other side of the world, miles and miles away from my safety net, are places that the sun is always set on. The days are constantly dark and frightening, sirens drown out the screams and terrified cries and saying goodbye to mum and dad doesn’t mean to be reunited in a few hours, it means fleeing – sometimes alone or with dozens of people you don’t know. Complete isolation from what you know as home as you all climb into a boat that could flip at any moment or duck down in a car, desperately trying to escape before anyone sees you.
Refugees cannot help where they come from and I am saying this as a girl who was born in Britain, had an Irish Grandfather and moved over to Ireland when she was young. I have faced racism in my own life which includes many small minded comments that fill my heart with sadness and fill the air with hate. Of course the difference here being that I can take it. Even though it shouldn’t be happening in this day and age, I can go home and back to safety… but what if your home isn’t there anymore? What if that safety is completely gone? What if all of your belongings have been strewn around the rubble filled streets, hidden underneath other people’s belongings and other people’s families? It is the small minded comments that are making world the way it is today – a world full of hatred and war, but for what?
In a world full of billions of people, who are we to close our doors on those who need us the most? What makes us so privileged that our hearts cannot ache for the millions of people suffering every single second? The world is more advanced than it has ever been, we cannot turn our backs on the hatred that is happening just oceans away. We cannot let geographical borders stop us from helping people over to our side. And when I say people, I mean people. Innocent people who were unlucky enough to be born into war torn civilisations. People just like you and me. People who laugh, cry, make friends, fall in love. People who are facing despair and escape similar to that which the Irish population faced during the Great Famine in the 1800’s. We cannot forget the times when we ourselves have suffered and reached out to other nations for help, and we cannot harden our hearts to the point where we turn a blind eye to death, destruction and pure horror.
The most frightening thing I remember about my childhood are the days when I didn’t want to go to school because I was anxious and frightened. I was afraid to sit in a room with 20 other children and play games at lunchtime while a smiling teacher made a fuss of us all day. Now if I thought that was fear, imagine the fear facing those poor refugees. I cannot imagine saying goodbye to my parents forever, I cannot imagine staring at explosions and I cannot imagine trying to find shelter with my siblings. That is fear. Children in particular cannot help it. Children do not understand what is going on. They cannot understand why everything is in pieces or how politics work. Their imaginations run too wild to form proper opinions. Wake up, we all saw the photos. We all saw that tiny lifeless body face down in the sand and we all saw the utter bewilderment on the face of the confused little boy pulled from the rubble. These two photos that pulled on heart strings and set tears flowing worldwide are just two of the millions of children just like them. Sadly, it is only when these things hit the media that it has a real impact on us, but by this stage it is in the media so much that we should no longer have one person wanting to turn them away, let alone thousands.
We cannot even begin to imagine what their everyday lives are like and I can assure you, if they asked us to fly over there, none of us would go. So why should we be forcing them to stay put? If the thought of going there fills every part of our bodies with fear, why are we sitting back and letting them suffer alone? If you needed safety in the morning, if you awoke to find that the four walls around you had been bombed, if you awoke to find your family facing death, if everything you have ever known just completely shattered around you and it was a matter of risking your life on a journey to a better life or risking your life staying in such war torn conditions, are you telling me you wouldn’t reach out for help? Are you telling me you wouldn’t want your baby to fall into the hands of a family who cared? Are you telling me you would make your children stay where they are simply because they’re not wanted elsewhere? I’m not even a mother and I can see why we all need to open our arms to these people because when we do this we are opening our arms to love and by doing so hate is no longer winning.
So many people will say that it is their own problem, but I can tell you now that it was not their choice. The innocent civilians didn’t choose this life, they shouldn’t have to be living it. We’re all the same, we don’t deserve any better than them and if you have the mentality that it is their own problem then I hope I am not a part of your friends group. The problem is our lives are too sugar coated to see the bigger picture. These images and stories are not make believe, they are so very real. The pure ignorance surrounding major world problems like these are the reason the world is so full of hate today. Too many people are turning their backs on the horrors of reality simply because it is not directly affecting them. Tomorrow morning we could all wake up and be facing the same problems, we don’t know what the passing days will bring so in the meantime we need to extend a helping hand and sympathise with the people who’s lives have been turned completely upside down.
As I am writing this I am tearing up and to be honest I hope you are too because those two tears you are now shedding are nothing compared to the tears filling the eyes of the millions of refugees who just have no other choice. If you cannot open your heart and your eyes to the hatred that is constantly growing then we will never be able to come together and stop it. We all have voices, and that is our power. I may not be able to change the world but I hope this piece of writing has made at least one hardened heart wake up and break at the thought of what is going on in the world right now. Not next week, not next month, right now as you are drinking your cup of tea by the cosy fire, watching the news on your working television in your home that is still standing while ranting about your ridiculous reasons for not wanting to let the most desperate and helpless people have a tiny glimmer of hope back in their lives.
Open your eyes and most importantly, open your heart, because it could be any one of us. Compassion costs nothing.