This week I was assigned to write a blog post explaining the Syrian refugee crisis. However, after completing the assigned readings, I felt compelled to share a different message (sorry Aaron!). A Google search will provide the background that you need to be informed on the subject matter, and to be honest that is the same information I would have regurgitated in this blog as well. My peers also did a great job highlighting necessary facts- so check out their posts! The message that I want to send with this blog post is to remember that refugees are people. I recognize that this simple statement is easy to roll your eyes at, say duh, and move on. But please take a moment to reflect on how we are discussing the occurrences of our world.
The people fleeing for safety have been stripped of enough recently, and now we are stripping them of their identity. Every person is now lump summed into this status of “refugee,” with no regard for his or her individuality. These people are trying to navigate their way to safety and in the process have to now navigate their positioning in society as well. How does the rest of the world view them? What social obstacles are going to present bigger barriers than the legislative ones? People who were once doctors, and lawyers, and students, and respected community members are now viewed as outcasts. The physical process of having to leave your home is difficult enough; there shouldn’t be an additional task of now having to reevaluate your personal worth against society’s standards.
Once we were somebodies about whom people cared, we were loved by friends, and even known by landlords as paying our rent regularly. Once we could buy our food and ride in the subway without being told we were undesirable….We try the best we can to fit into a world where you have to be sort of politically minded when you buy your food.
Very few individuals have the strength to conserve their own integrity if their social, political, and legal status is completely confused.
These unwritten social laws, though never publicly admitted, have the great force of public opinion. And such silent opinion and practice is more important for our daily lives than all official proclamations of hospitality and good will.
These quotes were taken as an excerpt from the passage We Refugees published in Altogether Elsewhere and are written by an individual on their experiences as a refugee not of modern day as you may have guessed, but following the Holocaust. For once, let us learn from history, and aid in the refugee process by being more mindful of how we discuss and treat individuals.
To get a more personal look on the Syrian refugee crisis check out Humans of New York’s Facebook page starting here: https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork/photos/pb.102099916530784.-2207520000.1455672164./1140123279395104/?type=3&theater