Today, when I saw the photograph of the body of the young Syrian boy washed up on a beach, I cried. I cried openly.
I am not someone living in a country plagued by war, or tyrannical regimes. I am safe in my home in America, and I am fortunate. But my heart bleeds for those that are not safe, for the people who are so desperate to escape that they will risk their lives to find a better life. My heart breaks for them, because they are only looking for the things every human should be guaranteed: safety, compassion, liberty.
But more than my sadness, I am filled with anger. I’m angry at the Hungarian government that would not allow a train full of refugees to enter the country. I’m angry at the policemen who forcibly separated a man from his wife and baby, who terrified him so much that he laid down on a train track to avoid being taken to a detention center. I’m angry that David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has publicly stated that the UK should not take any more refugees.
Maybe it is my youth that makes me feel this way. I do not think in such cynical ways, to see everything as either hurting or helping the economy. I read these news articles and watch these videos, and I see people. I see people yearning to be free from fear, so willing to die for this desire. I’m terrified when I see these small boats, overflowing with people, crossing dangerous waters. I don’t see them as more people to strain an economy or compete with jobs- they are people, desperate for some hope or opportunity. I watched a video of a father recounting how he watched his wife and children drown, how he held them in his arms. These are people that are having their lives destroyed by this crisis.
Experts put the death toll at over 2,500. These are 2,500 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, friends. These are 2,500 people that will never have a better life. These are people that could have been saved, if European governments would put aside their petty arguments and work together for a solution. I am young, and I am naieve, but I believe that we should be welcoming these refugees with open arms. They are no less worthy of a chance at a safe life than you or I. And that’s what a lot of people forget: these people are people. They are not figures, they are not death tolls. They are citizens, not of a country, but they are citizens of the world. Their lives are at risk if we refuse to help. If we can’t open our hearts to these people, I am worried about the future of humanity. At what point will we help? At what point does it get bad enough?