Friday, 4 September 2015

Syria Crisis - What if it was me?!

Over the last few days, social media has exploded with information, articles and pleas for help for the people who are fleeing Syria.

I don't pretend to know much about politics, and I certainly don't know an awful lot about the "immigration crisis" this country has. But what I do know about is people...

We are quick to judge those who are desperately trying to enter our country, legally or illegally, yet we have no hesitation in emigrating abroad ourselves if we fancy the idea of a "better quality of life" or perhaps move to find better work. It seems that we immediately "qualify" ourselves as being legitimate enough to do that but don't extend that to others simply because they are from different countries, cultures or circumstances to us.

It was about 4 years ago that Mr Strong and I were looking into the possibility of emigrating to Australia. We had done our research and were ready to complete our visa application forms once we had had a final "sit and think". At the time, we had ruled out moving without Mr Strong having a job to move to, purely on the basis that we had Erin and as a family needed financial stability. Had it have just been the two of us, we may have considered moving without jobs to go to, but ensuring we had our degree certificates etc with us to find jobs on arrival. Ringing any bells...?

I too have looked at the news and the situation in Calais, and wondered at times where we are failing in our policies to allow potentially violent and disorderly people to enter our country and communities. I too have wondered why our benefit system so easily supports those who don't always deserve or take for granted what they get for very little effort - usually at times when we have been struggling financially. I hold my hands up and admit there are times it hasn't brought out my best attitude towards certain groups of stereotypes. The whole situation is a grey area, and I don't believe there's a black and white solution - it all depends on individual circumstances - the same as it does in our society.

But the last few days have been truly heart wrenching. We are all people, we are all human, we are all on this earth together. Every single person has the right to be given a fair chance, to be given support in times of desperation, because if that was me in that boat, risking my family's safety - I must have been way past the point of desperation.

At some point, we decided that we owned the land we live on, and that we could buy and sell it, and therefore decide what happens on it. At some point, we decided that we have ultimate authority over everything we see, being able to live our lives by the rules we determine for an awful lot of our own gain. At some point we decided that because there are different religions, races and cultures, that some people are no longer human beings - that only certain groups are allowed to speak freely or have their own opinions, and that these groups are far superior. How wrong could we be!?

But let me tell you something... we serve an Almighty God. A God who knew each of us before we were born. A God who gave us freewill so that we could explore our own minds, and learn the identity he created in us, to follow Him and worship Him with all of our beings. A God who has unending love, unending compassion and unending understanding. Who moves in Grace and Mercy, and who wants nothing more than the best for us. A God who just waits for us to ask Him to enter our lives, to enjoy a relationship with Him, one to one.

So who are we to decide that these people aren't worthy of our help?? These people who have been put in the midst of death, danger and constant fear - who would sacrifice and risk everything just to get a helping hand to turn their world around. What they need are our open minds, open hearts and open borders.

I saw something on Facebook yesterday which was a quote taken from Paddington, about there being a time when children in this country travelled to strangers' houses, with tags around their necks, to escape from the war-targeted cities. To find refuge and safety. And the plea was for us to remember these times, when we expected our fellow countrymen to help in terrible circumstances. If anything, today's situation is far far worse, and all these people want are safety.

Firstly, there are a number of ways you can help this cause, various aid charities are getting involved - Save The Children is just one of those, along with the Migrant Offshore Aid Station who helps those stranded at sea in the Mediterranean. I'm sure there are plenty of others if you search online.

Secondly, I would ask that you continue to pray for these people, and put any prejudices aside. Being able to live free from fear is something we should all be able to have.

Finally, if you can find a way of practically helping then please do so. A friend of mine, Jess, over at Catch A Single Thought is helping by putting packages together and sending to those in need - there may be local projects who are doing a similar thing in your area. Please consider donating items of clothing etc (the projects will be able to advise what they need) or monetary donations for them to buy what is still needed.

What if it was your family, or someone you knew? Wouldn't your heart be quickened to do all that you could?

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