29 January, 2017

Disconnect from reality

I've been talking to friends recently about the turbulent times we are experiencing. Universally, they mention how overwhelmed they are with all the developments of these last weeks. We sit there shaking our heads in disbelief.

As most of you probably know, the political landscape of Germany has changed considerably in the last two years with the arrival of over a million (officially) or two (unofficially) refugees and immigrants. Most of them coming from those nine countries on the President's travel ban list.

It is encouraging to know the US judicial system can react as quickly as the government is able to issue new orders.

And it is also equally encouraging that people are ready to show up in protest. These are all important forms of activism.

I believe the way we, as citizens and as political voices, treat the (still) millions of refugees seeking safe harbour is of critical importance to the survival of our cultures.

It is not enough to watch the news or call your congress spokesperson, or march the streets. No, each and everyone of us needs to experience a fundamental change of heart. The plight of these people is our plight. They should not remain faceless or nameless. A change of heart only can happen when you closely know someone or a few someones who are struggling for their lives.

The people I know here in Germany, can be divided up into two groups. Those who approach our "refugee situation" intellectually, and those of us who use our hearts, as well as our brains. Those of us who work and befriend and share the struggles of the refugees and immigrants, are changed people.

We no longer fear or question the validity of their rights to stay here. We are incensed when our politicians resolve to allow refugees into our borders wavers. But, most importantly, those in need have names and faces and they become our friends and family. It is the easiest, most effective, though admittedly modest, way of becoming part of the solution.

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