Compassion. It’s a very simple word. A word that I was raised to always feel for others. The definition of “compassion” in the Oxford Dictionary is as follows:
A strong feeling of sympathy for people who are suffering and a desire to help them.
On November 13th, it wasn’t just Paris that was left changed forever. It was the entire world. Just because one country or one region suffers a trauma, does not mean the rest of the planet isn’t affected. We are all human beings, and we should all stand up and help one another in times of trouble, especially in situations this extreme.
No one should be opposed to letting Syrian refugees into the United States or their own states out of fear. The majority of citizens in the U.S. have ancestors who emigrated to this country – often in times of need, like in WWII when thousands of Jewish refugees fled a war-torn Europe. So why should we refuse to let refugees in now, when they are trying to do exactly what many of our ancestors did? Why should we not want to help save peoples lives? We are America. We pride ourselves on freedom, equality and peace. We don’t judge someone based on their race. We don’t cowardly turn against those in need.
Imagine for a moment that you lived in Lebanon, Afghanistan or Syria. How would you feel with bombs going off right in your neighborhood? Wouldn’t you want nothing more than to leave and live in a safe place – despite the fact that you would be leaving your home with everything you worked so hard to build? What if this situation happened here in the United States? What if you no longer had your cozy couch and your flat screen tv to watch movies on? What if all of a sudden your world was turned upside down and you had nothing but some clothes and trinkets to carry with you, as you looked for shelter and hoped for food? With everything the Syrian refugees are already going through – all of the fear, sadness and heartache – the last thing they need is to be pushed around into another country where they don’t know anyone or anything about the area, have no jobs, needing to stand in lines for hours and walk for days, all to land in a place where they are looked at with such hatred by so many. All because of their nationality and beliefs…
These people have left their homes. They have left most of their belongings. They have left friends and family, all to cling onto that hope for a better life elsewhere. It breaks my heart knowing there are people out there, even acquaintances of mine, who are sharing hateful posts on social media, vehemently against letting Syrian refugees into our country. I have recently been the opposite of proud, to live in such a nation filled with citizens who are so unwilling to help, despite being a country often associated with the word “freedom”.
Award-winning photographer, Ashley Gilbertson recently released a series of the 3 weeks he spent in Greece, the Balkans and Germany, photographing the refugee crisis for UNICEF. His experience and stunning black and white photos can be seen over at The New York Times and may leave you with a different outlook in this current worldwide crisis.
Despite all of the attacks around the world and all of the hate, this is the time when others need us most. Let us not forget our humanitarian role in this world. We should all have compassion towards others. We should be striving to find ways to help those in need. We should not let fear stand in the path of love. We should come together to fight this war of hate, as it can only be conquered with love and compassion.