I have a thousand things to do this morning. Between our move and everything and work and the Peanut's 1st birthday, my to-do list runneth over.
But the only thing on my mind right now is how we, we Americans and Canadians, need to do more about what is happening in Europe and the Middle East. Distance does not absolve us of our responsibility as humans. Because this is not happening at our borders we cannot just grieve for a moment at some father's unimaginable loss and change the channel.
We need to feel, to understand what it must have felt like in that dingy, in the pitch black, bucked by these waves, not concerned about your own safety but that of your little toddler and kindergartner. To be thrown into the water, and trying desperately to hold your children up as your own will and power lagged. To see, to feel, the life from them slip away. To know that you failed them. That the world has failed them.
Then, the worst part of all, to live with this reality. To live with this unimaginable reality.
There are millions, literally millions of these stories. But we need to focus on this one. Because this is the one that will get us to change. I need to know that these kids' lives did not fade away in vain.
Looking at Facebook this week, there are so many of you with 5 year olds proudly holding chalkboards, marching with hope and excitement and anticipation to their first day of school. The first of many days these beautiful kids will be fortunate to have.
My own 3 year old is full of life and energy. A non-stop chatterbox. Her whole life, her whole privileged life, stretched out in front of her.
I've been thinking a lot about the concept of villages and communities and our collective responsibility to each other. But this goes beyond our neighbourhoods and our cities.
We have a responsibility to those across the globe as citizens of the world.
So I beg you, reading this. Make a promise to that child to do one thing that will help. Maybe I'll reach 50 people, maybe 200. But that is 200 more acts of help that can make the difference.
There are countless wonderful articles and organizations that point to what help can be useful, but they fall in the buckets of:
– money: donate to UNICEF or the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or any number of other worthy NGOs
– clothes and goods: go through your house in an act of Fall Cleaning and find the things that can help these families
– lobby the government to do more and accept more refugees into the US and Canada
The last one is that I wonder about the most – can we, regular people, actually bring in a family and help them get set up in a new world? Look at our houses. Most of us could live quite comfortably in a fraction of the space. I know we could.
Stephen Harper has pledged that we can support 10,000 families. Ten thousand? That must be a joke. Sure, that's 10K more than 0. But it's also a re-election game. Stop it – I want to yell, this is not a game. People's lives are not a game. We can do more. If even 1% of us Canadians pledge to help someone that is over 300,000 people helped.
I know it's not so simple. That we need to think of the long term, of what strains on resources all of these extra people have.
But here's the thing: it's not supposed to be simple. And we don't have the time. They don't have the time.
Mother's babies are dying. Father's sons are being scarred for life by witnessing what they're seeing.
Europe has a lot to contend with themselves. And I do hope that other countries will step up like Germany has.
But this message is to you, my fellow North Americans. Our duty, our responsibility, our burden, is much greater than we have skating by with.
Lobby the government, donate, find a way.
Let's change the conversation around 1%. Let's find a way for one percent of us to be the change we wish to see in the world. That can change the whole course of someone's life.
I can't unsee the image of little Aylan, laying so peacefully on that beach, his rounded baby cheek pressed up against the sand. Finally in a better place than the one he left.
Because we let him down.
I'm writing this, tears running down my face, because please, let's not let down any more babies.