I'm sure by now you've read dozens of articles about the refugee crisis in Europe (here's one that's pretty comprehensive about the situation if you're looking for more background, and here's a good graphic summary). The human stories are heart-breaking. It's easy to think that what's happening half a world away doesn't really affect us, but it's impossible to remain unmoved by these pictures. I can't bear to look at the one of the poor drowned three-year-old Aylan Kurdi.
We can feel helpless and throw up our hands, or we can do something. While few of us might be in a position to offer the direct help these people did, here's an article that makes several concrete suggestions. Number four on her list is to volunteer, to personally help refugees acclimate to their new homes.
Here in Spokane, a great organization called Global Neighborhood assists refugees with job placement, studying for citizenship, learning to drive and get around town, and many other essential aspects of their transition. Check in your area for groups that reach out to refugees and find ways to communicate #refugeeswelcome.
Found this fascinating TED talk the other day: "How Not to Be Ignorant About the World." Father and son team Hans and Ola Rosling present four common misconceptions about the state of the world and then their four rules of thumb for combating our tendency to assume the worst in the absence of facts.
And another TED talk, this one from the author of The Righteous Mind. My facebook feed is starting to fill up with political posts of every stripe and while it's tempting to start hiding the posts I disagree with, this talk is a good reminder to keep an open mind:
...if our goal is to understand the world, to seek a deeper understanding of the world, our general lack of moral diversity...is going to make it harder. Because when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team, and once you engage the psychology of teams, it shuts down open-minded thinking.
Step out of the moral matrix, just try to see it as a struggle playing out, in which everybody does think they're right, and everybody, at least, has some reasons -- even if you disagree with them -- everybody has some reasons for what they're doing. Step out. And if you do that, that's the essential move to cultivate moral humility, to get yourself out of this self-righteousness, which is the normal human condition.
I canned delicious strawberry jam this weekend! It's so much better than store-bought jam, my boys can polish off a pint jar in a couple of days.
|All mashed up|
|A watched pot never boils...|
|The finished product (well, some of it - I already gave some away)|
Life has gone on, as it has a tendency to do, but September 11, 2001, will always be one of the defining moments in my young adulthood, a rude awakening to the reality of true evil in the world and our vulnerability before it, but also evidence of the deep-seated goodness and humanity of so many across the world.
May we continue to be determined to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children, and all people of good will.