I’m casually scrolling through my Facebook feed when I’m struck. I see a photo of a father cradling his lifeless twin babies after the tragic chemical attack in Syria. These babies were nine months old. This man, Abdul-Hamid Alyousef, is a 29-year old father and shop owner who lives in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. He would also lose his wife, two of his brothers, two nephews, and his niece in this same attack.
Make it stop.
I immediately click out of it.
Just as immediately, I have this thought…
How lucky am I to be able to make it stop?
For several more days, I will go about my business. I will seldom give thought to the inescapable reality of so many. I will continue to struggle over questions like, “Should I really pay the extra $3 for organic almonds?” Or, “Should we sign up for ballet before soccer starts?” And, “Which shade of black do I want to paint my office?”
If you are anything like me, you became deeply impassioned post-election. You vowed that you would stand up for what is right and good. You made calls to your senators and representatives to say that the ban was wrong, and that Betsey DeVos was in no way fit to be our Secretary of Education. You may have even followed up with them to protest the appointments of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. And then you went back to business as usual. I did, too. The passion and momentum subsided, perhaps because, like me, you didn’t necessarily see the fruits of your activist labor. And let’s be honest, life gets busy.
But now, we are needed more than ever. We have to get back on the horse because if we keep doing what we did, we will continue to get what we got. The lives of these Syrians and refugees are far too important for us to be fair weather activists.
We must persist. We must rally. We must press on.
We are forming new neural pathways of action. We are building our emotional muscles of compassion and love. It requires repetition because repetition is the mother of learning.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
The Muslim Ban indefinitely banned Syrians from the United States. Indefinitely. The people in this world who most desperately need our help cannot seek refuge in the country that has always been a symbol of hope. Our President condemned Assad’s chemical attack and later said, “No child of God should ever have to suffer such horror.” It is up to us to shed light on the contradiction between condemning this brutality, yet turning away those who are trying to escape it.
There is nothing wrong with these beautiful, privileged lives that we live. We don’t have to make ourselves bad or wrong for them. We should celebrate them. Every single day. But we must also recognize that with that comes responsibility. A responsibility to keep our heads out of the sand. A responsibility to acknowledge that our privilege exists in our ability to click the “X” in the upper left-hand screen of the Facebook images we would rather not see. A responsibility to put down our organic almonds for just a moment, so that we may show up and be of service to those who need our help the most.
Pope Frances recently said, “Good intentions and conventional formulas so often used to appease our conscience are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.”
It starts with us. Yes, you. And me. Right here, right now.
Recognize that your calling may not be Syrian refugees. It may be hungry orphans. Or black lives. Or trans ones. It may be the homeless within your community. It may be one of your own family members who is suffering from mental illness. Whomever or whatever it is, we must remember: we can have all the good intentions, and all the faith, and all the love in the world. But all of it is meaningless without action.
Let us commit to action.
Please join me in stepping into service. Here are a few things you can do to have your voice heard and to support refugees all over the world.
*Make a one-time donation. Here are a few organizations:
*Determine who your Senators and Representatives are, and continue to flood them with phone calls demanding that the indefinite ban against Syrians into the US be lifted.
*Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with people. Keep those conversations kind so that they may stay productive.
*Say a prayer, light a candle, or send a good thought in the name of peace across our globe.
This sweet shirt is by local Sacramento company, Equal Threads (@equalthreads) https://equalthreads.co/collections/equal-threads-collection