My phone lit up, BUZZ. I looked down to see the BBC notification flash across the screen, BREAKING NEWS, President Trump announces new vetting measures to ‘keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US’. As I read, I felt a deep knot swelling in the pit of my stomach. I thought about the implications this would have on lives of so many people, including the international refugee community as well as the lives of Muslim Americans.
A Muslim American’s reaction to President Trump’s extreme vetting and refugee ban:
“It’s so frustrating because it makes no sense. Like those people that are fleeing are doing so to escape oppression, war, hunger and just awful situations in their countries. But the land of freedom and equal ‘opportunity’ is telling them they aren’t allowed because they follow a religion that has been wrongly and ignorantly labeled as being about hate. [This] is a result of a few disgusting individuals that don’t represent anything remotely similar to the actual religion.”
In multiple articles about refugee experiences, both in and outside of camps, there is a haunting trend of individuals feeling dehumanized. One man describes Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya, as a “voluntary prison,” while another paralleled the camp to a warehouse. Individuals in camps and outside of them reach a point of hopelessness as they wait for their lives to change for the better. Many instead come to believe that they and their children will spend their lives waiting to die, as there is nowhere else for them to go.
“My family and I have been here for two years now. For my children’s sake, I wish other countries would open their doors to us Syrian refugees.”
~A father of 9 in Zaatari refugee camp
As children, we are taught to treat others as we wish to be treated, yet as we grow older into adulthood it seems as though we forget to follow this rule. We get older and become so busy caring for ourselves that we overlook or forget the importance of demonstrating care for others. People have the tendency to become so wrapped up in the news stories and in labeling everything and everyone that they forget to treat people like individuals. We as members of an international community and human beings have the power to stand up and protect targeted groups and individuals so that they never feel invaluable. Demonstrating kindness is such a simple thing and it is so much easier to do and feel than hate and anger.
Gut reaction questions:
- How can countries be responsible for protecting the human rights of their own people, but so quick to deny the human rights of a neighbor?
- Are borders really so tangible that they make the people on either side too different from each other that they lose their humanity?
- And lastly, why do we have such a difficult time treating each other with kindness?
“I is important, but my goodness, the strength that comes from us and we! You and I, together, are much stronger than you and I alone.”