In the light of the -what some say- “European invasion” and how ridiculous it’s been getting these past few days (I’m not talking about the “invasion” but the opinions and comments) I feel the urge to write about it. So here it is and I shall try to keep it as light as possible. I’m afraid the topic isn’t something to be joked around about, neither is the point I’m trying to make that is this post. So, maybe this one will be an uncharacteristic post.
Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, let’s get me rambling, shall we?
For the last couple of months, I’ve been purposely keeping quiet about it. I haven’t posted anything on my social media pages nor commenting on any posts. Mainly because I’ve learned the bitter truth a couple of years ago, of which I shall not disclose because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Anyway, like I said I have been keeping quiet about it, simply reading news about it and, well, you know, keeping up-to-date on the subject. Oh, have I not been clear about what the subject is? Excuse me… I’m talking about the refugees coming to Europe from the Middle East. Yah, ummm… I’ve had the urge to help back then. I wanted to go to the camp in Traiskirchen and help out. But I guess I’m too much of a chicken…
Fast forward to the last few days, or has it been weeks? I’ve lost count. Mainly because I don’t keep track of the dates anymore since I’m a full-time mom… so…
I don’t think I have to give the blow-by-blow details in this post. I’m sure anyone reading this has at least a slight idea of what happened, especially last week, where it was (or shall I say is, as it still is) the loudest. That was when people starting posting stuff on social media, the good and the bad. That was when suddenly everybody had an opinion on the subject, the good and the bad. But let me say this, that was also when my heart broke for this world, TO PIECES. I was completely crushed and I have my poor husband to vouch for it – stress on the “poor” – because I was a depressed wreck a couple of days after that.
A lot of people rose to the occasion and showed the world (especially me) that there is some love left in this cruel, cruel world. But there are some who, well, reminded me of the said cruel world. The posts I’ve seen and the comments I’ve read from the people who are not very happy about this “invasion” left me utterly flabbergasted and I couldn’t, still can’t, understand how anyone in their right mind would have the heart to say/type such things. I remember asking myself, “what happened to compassion? Is there no empathy left in these people?” I won’t repeat those comments here, because to be honest, I’m still quite a mess (because hateful posts and comments still show up on my news feed… Yes, sadly some of these posts are coming from people I know… Maybe that’s why the scale of my disappointment is blown up to about ten times more. Or maybe I just need the drama…). But one comment, one that oddly struck me the hardest for some reason, was saying that the person didn’t think that these people were suffering that much; this person saw an interview with the refugees and there was one woman, her nails were polished, so obviously she had time to pamper herself, and there was a man who said he had to sell everything he had just so he could flee. This person wrote that obviously they had a good life that he was able to even sell stuff, so why not stay there and make out of that good life?
Now, I’ve never fled from a country before. I left my country, yes, but not because it was at war. But I’d like to think that I’m quite well informed, or should I say I read a lot, that I know that you sometimes need to pay a smuggler to flee. And these smugglers aren’t exactly the cheapest service you can get, not the best service either for that matter. There’s zero guarantee that you or your family will make it in one piece or alive. And I don’t imagine that the smugglers will really try to protect your lives even if their own depend on it. So, why risk it? Why trade your “good life” for something you’re not even sure of of the outcome. I don’t know, like I said, I’ve never seen any wars in my entire life, except on movies, so I can only imagine. But if you are willing to take that kind of risk, I would say that you’re pretty damn desperate. Maybe you saw your neighbor’s house being bombed, or you saw your neighbor die in the hands of the soldiers, or you had to witness your sister being raped, your father being tortured and you ask yourself when your turn’s going to be. So maybe you ran and traded everything that you had for a slight chance that you might live without any fear, however slim that chance may be. Maybe you thought that was the only way, and for these refugees, it was the only way.
And as far as the polished nails go, I imagine a bit of “normality” in a life that’s been turned completely upside down can do wonders to your being. This is by far not to scale to that woman’s ordeal, but ever since I’m a mom, I seriously am thankful for quiet 5 minutes, just to do my “business” on my own, without the little man standing right in front of me, staring or trying to unroll the toilet paper.
Last weekend I went with my husband and the little man to Vienna’s main train station, Hauptbahnhof, to give what we could. Being there stirred a hell of emotions in me. It was by far the most sobering moment of my life. I saw so much uncertainty, so much confusion, exhaustion, grief but at the same time hope and relief. I overheard an old man telling an Austrian lady his story. I saw him smile but it was the saddest smile I’ve ever seen and my heart bled. Just a couple meters from that man, I saw a young woman. She was just sitting there, staring into the space. Her little son, probably 2-3 years old, playing and I seriously started crying when I saw that he was happily playing with a rope stuck to a stick… So happy. When we headed back to our car, I saw two young men standing just a few feet away. One was trying to make a phone call through his cellphone and I wondered who he was trying to reach. His family back home, to tell them he’s alive or to check if they’re still alive? Or friends or relatives who got separated from him during their journey? Needless to say, I was crying a river the whole way back home. Then I made the mistake of checking my social media…
I must say that, of course I haven’t forgotten about the wonderful people who were and still are helping the poor souls. It really does give me hope and tells that there is still a bit of compassion left, regardless of race, religion, nationality or origin. And I truly am thankful for that. I have a feeling that I will meet more wonderful people in the next couple weeks/months or however long our help is needed. And I’m looking forward to that. Eagerly.
But to the naysayers, to those who say that these people are only trying to conquer Europe and are looking for global Islamization (seriously? Do you have so little faith in your own belief that you think and are actually afraid that it will happen or the world will let it happen?), to those who say that they are only after your tax money and want to live the easy life in Europe as asylum seekers (ummm, how easy do you think that life is? I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I personally know an asylum seeker, and his life is anything but a breeze…), please do let me say this: I accept the fact that you are entitled to your own opinion and have the absolute right of voicing that opinion, freedom of speech, right? I also accept the fact that I – or anyone for that matter – can’t change your mind about how you see things (I wouldn’t even dream of trying), we live in a free world, right? If you don’t want to help, then don’t, that’s fine. There are enough of us doing that. However, as a human being to another human being, I implore you, keep your hate and judgments to yourself. The world is already filled with enough hate as it is. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then simply say nothing. Please?