I weep and the world weeps with me over the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris.
President Obama said, “this was an attack not just on Paris, not just on the people of France, but…on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”
And then the people of Beirut started to say, “what about us?” They too are reeling in the aftermath of an ISIS attack that killed 44 and injured hundreds which occurred the week before. And they are right. What happened to them is every bit as devastating as the attacks in Paris. They are also right that these and other attacks have gone largely unnoticed by the West.
I think most of us can agree terrorist attacks that hurt and kill large numbers of people, particularly innocent people, are wrong and that we support any efforts to stop them. Whether that includes bombing runs or drone attacks, many of us would say, ‘if that’s what it takes.’
And that leaves me wondering just how far we go with ISIS promising more attacks so that none of us can feel safe, no matter where we live. At the same time I hear news stories saying more than a dozen U.S. States are closing the door to Syrian refugees. In Canada Saskatchewan is balking even as Quebec and Ontario say they are ready to take 16,000 refugees.
It’s easy to let fear take over and close our borders but the Syrian refugees are fleeing an impossible situation. To put it in perspective Paris is saying at least 127 people died in Paris on Friday. In Syria it’s estimated 140 people lose their lives daily. The Syrians are fleeing their country because they have no choice.
What would you take if you had to leave everything and flee for your life? How would you tell your children? Would you have a chance to tell your family and friends? Or would you have to leave everything behind with no warning, no chance to say goodbye?
Most of us will never face these questions. We have the good fortune to be born in the west in countries that have the best standard of life in the world. Even if we were forced out of our homes it would probably be due to a natural disaster such as fire or flood. It would still be bad. But there would be help. You might well have friends or family to help you, insurance to cover at least some of the losses.
The people fleeing Syria have nothing. In all too many cases they are leaving behind homes and cities that have become war zones. And in far too many cases they are being met not with open arms but closed doors. I can’t imagine how that would feel.
Our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is saying Canada will continue with election promises to bring in 25,000 refugees and is still planning to stop bombing Syria while stepping up the training of local troops. We can only hope it’s a step in the right direction. Away from war and towards hope with a new life for thousands of refugees whose only crime has been being born in the wrong place.
And as a writer I can’t help thinking what if? There’s a story in there somewhere.