Painting by: Johann Van Den Noort – Boat Refugees
This is not a poster intended to persuade you towards a solution. We put up posters like this because of the emotion they evoke. I cannot imagine a single person I know that would not be moved by this poster – because we all love our children.
Our children are precious to us and we cannot fathom a situation so terrible where risking their lives on a crappy little boat, crammed with other desperate people, sailing to an unknown future and possible death . . . would seem like the only answer.
The problem is, there are people in the world who do not see children as priceless. For them, children are used and discarded without pause. They are simply weapons to be used against people who cannot even imagine such evil. They bank on it. They want the pictures of their dead bodies being pulled out of the sea, to show up on every Facebook page so that they can frame the debate with emotion.
It is entirely possible the boat people are all families fleeing unimaginable terror and deserve every ounce of our compassion.
It is, however, also entirely possible that they are victims, being used by evil people with an agenda more horrible than we can imagine. They may, in fact, be carefully placed to evoke the very emotion we all feel. Their parents may be perfectly willing to risk their lives to accomplish their goals.
This is so typical of the many issues that face us today. The emotional part overwhelms us and make them deeply personal. They pull us in and we overlay the images over our own hearts, our understandings, our sensitivities. We lose the objectivity needed to talk about a problem with the goal of finding solutions.
That we have immigrants that are desperate in their need to flee their war-torn countries, is a fact. We also have people who are willing to use those very tragedies to push terrorism. We have people wanting to buy their way in and avoid the provided immigration protocols. Hidden as a refugee, a drug dealer or a terrorist MIGHT make it into a country, where if they actually submit their papers legally, they would never stand a hope.
We are dealing with terrorists willing to hide bombs on the most unlikely suspects. We have the most unlikely suspects willingly carrying those same bombs.
Terrorism is real.
The needs of those genuine, fleeing immigrants is real.
It is not about finding a middle ground.
It is about addressing the concerns regarding terrorism and ongoing wars and corrupts politicians and big business that all led us to where we are. It is also about addressing poverty and taking care of all of humanity instead of being “us” and “them.” It is about taking down the walls that divide us – religion, culture, politics. It is about waking up to our own power and refusing to be sheep.
But it begins with the ability to talk about issues that trigger us and allowing everyone at the table to be heard. Wake up people and understand these posters are not promoted by people that want solutions or that are advocating for a healing outcome. Posters like these are intended simply to keep everyone fighting. The problems we face in this world are all about this kind of distraction. It keeps each of us from doing anything real or meaningful. It keeps us all emotional and angry until we become numb . . . and then all we want to do is to escape into electronic entertainment, or to be medicated.
What are we doing to each other? What are we doing to ourselves?
The anger is as counter-productive as is our weeping. Words are pointless unless we base them on what we learned by listening to everyone at the table. There are solutions to be found by listening to one another. Ideas can be extracted that we can build into answers and words can craft the bridges that will help us all to work towards creating a world that is safe. That is all we want – a safe, clean world where we can live our lives with the people we love and create and do the things that feed our soul. Sharing that kind of world with one another is easy. Caring for one another in that kind of a world just happens.
Perhaps we begin by policing our own reactions by asking of ourselves as series of questions.
Considering what I am about to do/say:
1. Is my response going to help the situation or am I deflecting from it, or actually adding to the problem?
2. Am I focused on the issue or am I making a personal attack that really has nothing to do with the topic?
3. Why am I so angry at what has been said? What fear/belief is being triggered/challenged and why? (Recognize this is your personal issue to deal with and not part of the topic being discussed.)
4. Am I arguing because this is different information from what I have? Instead of getting mad, what questions can I ask to better understand where the other person is coming from and what their sources are before I automatically dismiss their ideas. If I listen to them, at least if I decide I disagree I will do it fully understanding what they are saying and it will deepen my sense that what I know is true. OR, maybe I will learn something new that can broaden my understanding and approach. And yes, it may even change my mind and that is not a sign of weakness at all, it just means I am a growing, evolving human being like everyone else.
5. Can I explain my own position with information that is helpful to others if they have not considered it from this view? (see above)
6. Am I too focused on blame or in discussing the problem? Can I move from that into offering ideas for solutions?
7. Am I open to other people’s ideas, as well as my own? Can I accept that rejection of my idea is not rejection of me, and stay focused on the task at hand?
Real Solutions are seldom about compromise, as I have already stated. This is not a relationship where the goal is to have both people feel good. The type of issues that spark religious, political and social debate require input from all the people impacted. Their concerns have to be identified and included in the search for answers. Our best ability to find solutions is to be able to have all the problems understood. Then we need to talk about them and listen to all the ideas for solutions that people have. Somewhere in that process, answers will emerge.
And the final part of all of that will be to implement the change and reach out to everyone involved to facilitate their understanding and participation in the change.