The Syrian Refugees Are People Just Like Us
What matters is that there are places on Earth right now that symbolize hell, that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. One of those places, and quite possibly the worst of them all, is Syria. Bloodshed, violence and fear is the daily reality - not being able to trust the government, the rebels or ISIS, because they might all shoot you in the head. Since 2011, the world has stood by and seen the civil war deteriorate, has looked at staggering numbers of deaths as well as refugees and done next to nothing. Countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan each hold more than 3 million refugees alone, and almost 16 million Syrians are internally displaced. Thousands try to make their way to Europe in a desperate attempt to start over, in search of freedom, in search of peace.
But even Europe has become a place that isn't all what it is made out to be, what it ought to be, what it should be. How many stories I've heard of Europeans, my fellow citizens, talking about the influx of refugees with their mouths full of distaste. Calling them economic migrants, people searching for a better paycheck, rather than security. They're criminals, they're a danger to our society, they don't belong here, is what people whisper. Slovakia doesn't want them, going to court over the fact the EU has told them to house 2,287 refugees. Yes, the staggering number of 2,287 refugees is apparently so appalling that Slovakia is willing to spend enormous amounts of money on a court case over it.
What are people so afraid of? That those people invading their country are terrorists, that they're here to steal jobs, that they're the scum of the earth? But, they're not. Why would you give up everything - your family, your house, your familiar surroundings, your most valuable possessions - and trade them for potential suicide on a boat that was never meant to cross the seas?
And it's sad because it seems like some people are so convinced of the malicious nature of these migrants, they refuse to open their eyes and ears and just listen to their stories, see the constant fear in their eyes. Wouldn't you, too, bring your smartphone, so you could have some pictures, maybe call your loved ones that you made it if you've come eye to eye with war? Wouldn't you, too, try to bring your children, because you want them to have a better feature? Wouldn't you, too, try whatever it takes, be desperate, to escape the reality of impending death and destruction? Wouldn't you be eternally thankful to have an outstretched hand waiting for you on the other side?
I cannot be grateful enough, for all those people that have shown their compassion, their empathy, their good hearts. The people who have provided shelter, food and maybe just a little bit of friendliness for those in need. I'm glad that someone like Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York is able to help in overcoming such ignorance. It is disheartening, that a photo of a dead 3-year-old, taken on the beach of a Greek island is what it took to wake people up. But if it's necessary to stop similar scenarios from even taking place, then so be it.
Sometimes a picture can say more than 1,000 words, and sometimes you need the story behind the picture to fully understand it. But the beauty is, that Brandon's portraits show that in essence, whatever our story is, we're all just people. What you see, isn't always all there is to reality, but sometimes, it might be all you need to understand. We all hunger for the same things, we all need food, water and safety - we all need a sense of love, a sense of belonging.
And those who take the risk of dying at sea over staying where they've grown up and built their lives - a place corrupted by violence - maybe they need it the most. Just think, what if it was you?