As I’m sure many have done, I’ve watched with horror and sadness at the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria that has resulted in a flood of refugees fleeing to Europe. This has been the largest migration of refugees to Europe since World War II. Some European countries have welcomed the refugees with open arms, others have greeted them with racial slurs and personal insults–including one Hungarian journalist who chose to stick her foot out in front of a refugee who was running and trip them. Pressure is also mounting here in my own country, Canada, to step up and accept more refugees, and it became a hot-button issue in our recent federal election campaign.
Along with this news, comes the inevitable Facebook memes and posts on all sides of the issue; from those who support unlimited assistance to those who think we should build walls along our borders, and who stoke paranoid fears that by allowing in refugees, we’d be allowing in an army of ISIS fighters. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Personally, my feelings fall somewhere in between those who would throw open the borders and those who would build walls. I think we should implement a streamlined screening process to ensure that terrorists and criminals are filtered out as much as possible, and aside from that, we should admit as many refugees as we can. Fortunately Canada, after years of indifference from the previous government, is stepping up and accepting upwards of 25,000 refugees in the first part of this year, and possibly more later in the year. These are people who will make Canada their new home, and contribute to the economy, and cultural richness of our country. Far from being afraid of them, we need to embrace them.
Let’s just pray about it…
The posts and memes that really grate on me (other than the xenophobic ones that advocate building walls, or let’s solve our own problems before helping others), are the ones that simply say “prayers for Syria” or “prayers for the refugees” or some such claptrap. I see versions of these memes pop up whenever there’s some sort of disaster that catches everyone’s attention. As I see it, it’s the ultimate absolution for those who choose to do nothing, but want to appear as if they’re doing something.
Now, I realize very few of us can actually go to Syria or Iraq and help people, and honestly, that would probably be a stupid thing to do anyway. But, we can help in real, concrete ways. The easiest and best all-around thing to do is to donate money to organizations that help refugees. Then, those organizations can use that money as they need to to provide services. You can also sponsor refugees to live in your country (at least you can here in Canada). There–two things other than mere prayer that will actually help refugees. Just praying for them ain’t going to do a damn thing to help them, folks–just be honest and say you don’t want to do anything, or better yet, just stay quiet. If everyone who says “prayers for…[insert name of obliterated place/people]” contributed even just $1.00 or $5.00, relief agencies would see a huge influx of needed funds. It takes so very little effort, not much more than a prayer or platitude posted on Facebook.