“Oh my…” were the words Hilary gasped, as she glanced at her laptop. Breakfast is a busy time in our house and we were rushing to get the kids to the pool. Something in the back of my mind registered Hil’s next words, “…boy on beach.”, and I knew that eventually I would find out more later today.
Hours later, I check a link from a dear student’s FB feed and as I click, I instantly know that this is what Hil was talking about.
Many years ago my dear teacher Hart Lazer commented how if we follow the news, it can be incredibly painful. “If we are on a journey of opening ourselves, as opposed to going on auto-pilot, and we see something incredibly difficult, we are meant to fall apart.’
And in one click, as my mind tries to process what it is seeing, I feel my heart falling apart.
The image of a young Syrian refugee, only a toddler, washed up on a beach. Drowned. Face buried in the sand, bum in the air. If it weren’t for the water around him, you could imagine he was deeply sleeping in one of those awkward shapes that little people find comfy.
I have a daughter the same age as this little boy – (whose name is Aylan Kurdi), and something crumples inside me. I know first-hand how much life flows through a three year old, and to see it extinguished is so very, very hard to witness.
As I read through the rest of the article which deals with our government’s actions, there are other emotions inside that are stirred such as anger, hate, disgust, shame, etc. Like the hurt, I try to feel them deeply so that they can be processed and used for good.
It is time for a change in our country – and we have the opportunity at our next election this October.
There was a time when Canada was considered one of the “good guys” – a place of compassion and kindness. Where a second chance could be had. However, that is not what we are today. Never before has our country been so diminished by its government. The conservatives, managed (led is too lofty a word) by Stephen Harper have eagerly dismantled Canada’s conscience and compassion. Institutions that were once bastions of a kinder identity have been steadily assaulted. And the result is policies that are cruel and inhumane.
We are led by mean, myopic small men who have sacrificed all that is special and unique to the altar of the “economy”. And the sad joke is, they’ve done a pretty crappy job with that too.
Take for instance, the pithy response from the Chris Alexander’s (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration):
“The plight of the Syrian people, including the events of yesterday, is a tragedy and we offer our condolences to all those affected.” – the department
One wonders how such a meaningless response could come from anything other than an email-auto-responder. Or, more frighteningly, is this the “human sentiment” from a government so callous and oblivious to reality?
As a first-generation Canadian, this story hits home with me. My parents immigrated to Canada six decades ago and it was not easy. For twenty years my father answered to a false name for fear of deportation. Their first house in Calgary was a run-down army shack on the edge of Calgary (West Hillhurst – oh the times have changed) and they were so poor that the windows were boarded up with plywood.
But through perseverance, they made it, and offered me the opportunity to become who I am today.
If my parents had the misfortune of meeting the Harper government of present they would be dismissed as scum. With no money, english dialect, and profession – they are worthless in Conservative eyes. Quick – slam the door shut! Rather than give someone a chance, assume that they are here to take advantage of us.
This coming October, I urge all of you to vote in our federal election. Research the policies of the various candidates. Vote strategically if need be.
My imagination goes a million places as I finish this post. Part of me imagines how if Aylan Kurdi and his family had made it to Canada, that little 3 year old could have become someone special. I imagine how if it weren’t for the mysterious fortune of being in the right place at the right time, I could be shaking in fear as the waves washed over our sinking boat.
I imagine a better world, and a return to leaps of faith, and acts of kindness. Please – use your imagination and let us create change. What we have now is not working.
May we fall apart and come back stronger,