Main Pic.

Main Pic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Understanding and Knowing

A lot of people have been asking me about how I feel about the refugee crisis and the world's response...I'm not sure what they are expecting me to say. Even more, I'm not sure they want to hear what I would say.

There is line between understanding and knowing. Understanding involves knowing all sides of the argument and then, in your knowledge, deciding on an opinion. There are a lot of people who are much smarter than me and they have the intel and knowledge to understand the refugee crisis. They know the answers to how welcoming in thousands of refugees can impact the economy of a community and how well or how flawed the vetting process is. They understand the risks and they comprehend the barriers. They see the benefits and the potential disasters and then, and only then, do they make an opinion. These individuals who understand, I believe they have a right and a responsibility to share their understanding and to share their opinion.

I am not one of these people. And if we are being really honest, most of the people reading this right now aren't either. I am not a politician or economic specialist.  I watch BBC, CNN, and other various news outlets, but I am in no way a foreign policy maker. I do not understand all the components of the refugee crisis, so my opinion is flawed.

But then there are those who know....

The moment we climbed out of our van in south east Turkey I became one who knows.

I know the refugee crisis because I know the refugees. It's easy to have a well developed opinion when it comes out of understanding but all of that washes away when you are sitting on the floor of a tent sharing tea and stories, and you suddnely realize that you have crossed over...this situation has just become personal.

I remember sitting and praying that the lice I saw in the little girls hair next to me weren't in the comb that was currently being stroked though my long curls as I allowed a 7 year old girl to practice her beauty shop skills on my recently shampooed hair. I remember asking my friend to translate as I learned her name and favorite pastimes. I remember when he stopped translating enough to tell me that her dad was killed by "the bad guys" when they were fleeing just a few months prior to our meeting. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember laughing with my sweet friend as we practiced simple English phrases and talked about her engagement to the man of her dreams. I remember seeing the look in her eyes when I asked where he was and when she would see him again. I remember the hurt that came when she said he fled before her and she didn't know when they would be reunited. He made it into Europe and she only dreamed of making it back to him. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember honoring a strong mother who somehow was able to escape captivity with her family. She dressed in dark colors because not all of her children made it. I remember being astonished when I discovered she came and led her family on her own because he husband had immigrated before the conflict. I remember the hope in their eyes as they spoke of being reunified with him again soon. I remember just yesterday when I saw that the very state they were to be reunified to turned red on the 'states not accepting refugees' map on CNN. It just got personal, I now know.

So for those of you that keep asking me to share my opinion. I don't have one. But I do have friends and I do have stories and I do have memories. So I may not understand the entire situation enough to formulate a proper political opinion, but I do know and I'll share what I know. I know that those I sat and had tea with are terrified people who's lives have been interrupted by a conflict so grand that the world cannot stop watching. They are fleeing the very thing that we spend hours debating on, and they are my friends. So I guess I do know how I feel about the refugee crisis. Do you? Because once that switch turns and it becomes personal, it is no longer opinions, it's lives.

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