I will admit right here, right now that I am a typical American. I do not know what is actually going on in the rest of the world, but I at least acknowledge that this country is not the center of the universe..unlike (not) my President. (cough cough sputter spit)
I don’t go out of my way to find these things out, either. Not proud, but honest. Tonight I watched a Frontline show about refugees. I love Frontline because the handful of episodes I have watched are simply educational. Enlightening. It is without an agenda or a side or angle. I appreciate that.
I feel like we have heard the term “refugee” a million times but no one in mainstream media has taken the extra step to highlight what that really means. This show simply told the stories of multiple families who all had a refugee story. Different people, different countries, different situations, same horrifying problem. They no longer had an entire country to live their lives in.
When the option is to stay and die a gruesome death or uproot yourself -and possibly entire family- and start walking until you find another country, there really isn’t an option. You go. It’s nothing any of us would have done differently. We just had the long straw and were born into a country that has not been in religious, governmental, societal upheaval.
After watching for over an hour I felt incredibly lucky. It made me appreciate things I take for granted all. the. time. Those tragically displaced people are children without families. Mothers who cannot provide protection, medication, warmth, food and comfort for their kids. Walking for days and weeks on end. The amount of fight you have to equip yourself with to persevere is astounding.
A common thread was the intolerance they all faced regardless of the country they ended up in. “Go home refugees” was prominent.
There is nothing to go to. They are refugees because they no longer have a home. When a terrorist group blows up not just your home, but your town and city and is now running your country’s government you are no longer a traveler or immigrant. You are a refugee. When family members are being rounded up and killed around you, you don’t stick around to have your name on that list. You leave. You flee.
I keep blinders on a lot of the time for self-preservation. It’s not an excuse, it’s how I can operate and still keep my home fun and open-minded and light for my kids. I don’t know what the answers are, but I am thankful to have been enlightened for an hour tonight so I can try harder to continue the conversation. I can talk to my kids about realizing why we are fortunate and not to squander it. I will pay more attention and peek around the blinders more often.
More importantly, I have a better understanding of the meaning of the word “refugee” and to be quite honest it changed my narrow-minded perception about what that means.