What did we do? Or, what did we not do?

What did we do? Or, what did we not do?

A Syrian child speaks into the microphone on the Greek island of Kos. This is what he says: “It is better to die on the road than living in Turkey.” 

When asked about the most undesirable way of dying, most people would say “drowning.”

This child is saying that the worst way to die is living in Turkey.

We need to read the picture of the drowned body of the child that hit the coast together with this sentence. 

What did we do that forced hundreds of people to take a journey that risked their lives? Or what did we not do?

Let others do politics. I want us as a society to first face ourselves.

Of course we get angry at the ones who started and instigated this war. 

But let us question ourselves on why we have directed our anger at those exhausted people.

The picture of the dead body of Aylan came as a slap to our face.

Then why did the child on the Greek island of Kos say it was better to die on the road?

Some of us insulted these people, called them thieves, abusers and looters.

Some of us wished that the municipality would take them away, the beggars.

Some of us asked why we were feeding them with our taxes. 

Some of us even went so far to say “Let them stay in their countries and fight there.”

We reacted loudly when shopkeepers beat a Syrian child just because he was selling Kleenex…

But have we ever caressed a Syrian child’s hair on the street? 

Last year, 48 percent of Germans wanted the country’s doors to be more open to refugees. If we put aside the reactions of racists, there is an organized group of people in their society that try to spread the culture of hospitality.

They protest the attacks of racists against refugees, opening banners saying, “Nazis raus, let the refugees stay.”

Eleven thousand Icelanders decided to open their homes to refugees after a government statement that only 50 refugees would be accepted. 

True, it’s not fair to compare us to Europe in that sense.

Yes, we have opened our doors to 2 million Syrians. It’s not easy to make space for millions of new people when resources are limited and when many are already struggling with poverty.

If millions of refugees were to move to any European country, maybe the amount of people who were uncomfortable or who would have bad reactions would not be any less.

I feel ashamed. Some of us made these desperate people feel they are unwanted. The rest of us did not prove them wrong.

Instead of feeling sad all the time…

We can work voluntarily in institutions that help refugees, make donations, give out pens, teach Turkish or at least bring them cake.

It is late to act, true.

Let’s hope that it is not too late.