HEAD ABOVE WATER

★ ★ ★ ★

WINTER IN THE WORLD FAMILY

By Tim Clark

“Awful momentum makes carrying through easier than calling off folly.” [1]

I love the winter solstice, and the summer solstice, and the festival of Samhain, and the Lunar New Year, the cycles of the moon, these things really connect me to my roots. And I mean ancient roots. Twisted, twined, wrapped tight around all of history. The raising of Stonehenge is lodged somewhere deep in my past. I was there when the moai were carved out of boulders and carted all over Easter Island.

We hunted and gathered together and watched in absolute horror as the moon swallowed the sun during those inexplicable eclipses that seemed to threaten our very existence. We marched from Africa to Asia and from there around the world. We prayed to whatever gods we could imagine to save us from whatever demons we carried with us. All we wanted was to live to see the next day.

I think that’s about the best thing we can hope for, even today. Just make it until tomorrow, and then do it all over again.

That’s all we need, is just enough to get by.

Several years ago (more recent than my Easter Island experience) my sister (my actual, from-the-same-parents sister) started doing a “family tree” search for our familial (my immediate family) past. I remember thinking it was a terrible waste of time, this was long before the internet, and she had to send mailed requests for copies of records. She told me about some of her findings, and it was interesting, but sadly not enough to keep her attention. She moved on to something else. Maybe because of, or despite this, I like to think of myself as a little bit of everybody, from everywhere. I am a proud member of the family of man.

And all the peoples of the earth are related to me. And, their suffering diminishes us all.

Refugees seeking comfort are imprisoned in camps, waiting for… what? Mostly they’re just waiting to die. There are more refugees today than any time since World War II. They face hunger, disease, crime and the overwhelming feeling they just aren’t welcome anywhere. No longer displaced, these people have become abandoned, forgotten. The inherit meanness of the tent city slums brings so much shame it is easier to ignore than solve, so that’s what we do.

According to the NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council) there are more than 630,000 refugees living in Kutupalong in Bangladesh, the world’s largest settlement. They are faced daily with unsafe drinking water, flooding, landslides, starvation, crime and the awful prospect of never having a home again. Imagine the painful loneliness of knowing you’re never going to be welcome anywhere. They don’t even register on the television news, or in the paper, but they are there, and they will always be there, they aren’t going anywhere.

We watch the killing in Yemen, with a passing discomfort. Children who live through the bombing face the terrifying prospect of starving to death or disease. In an article by the ICRC (the International Committee of the Red Cross) a million people in Yemen have contracted cholera, and thousands of people have died. Cholera is treatable, but not during a siege. More than 80% of the population of Yemen don’t have access to medical care, food, potable water and fuel. We never even appreciate the ridiculousness of watching the pre-Renaissance world playing out on our smart phones or tablets. Probably just as well, we don’t need that kind of guilt. Still, it causes us so much pain and anxiety we start looking for stories about Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, aren’t they adorable.

It just isn’t that complicated. We’re all in this together. From the filthiest, meanest South American slum to the tallest, most opulent Qatari high-rise. Our language is different, we dress differently, we have different shades of skin, and certainly our religious beliefs are varied and profound, but we’re all basically the same. We all love our families, and want them to be safe. Some of us are so serious about that we are willing to risk everything to avoid persecution, war and ethnic violence. Willing to face terrible risk and deprivations for the slight chance to find peace and possibility no matter how miniscule. Those are the saddest of all, living in hopeless despair, and knowing it is better than what they left.

We need, all of us, everywhere, every extended member of this glorious, potent, loving, occasionally indifferent, always volatile family to stand up and demand action. International relief organizations need funding, we need to find countries willing to accept these poor souls, and we need to end the stupid little wars causing so much of this terrible suffering, so much of this awful diaspora.

If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – John 4:20.

We are all brothers, sisters, family, and the idea of so many of us living in such torturous conditions is unbearable. It breaks my heart. There are things we can do to help, though. Easy, almost painless steps we can take to ease their burden, ease our burden, we are all in this together. There are people sacrificing enormous amounts of their lives to aid these lost souls, suffering right beside them. All you have to do is give a little money, a little cash, or if you can afford it a lot of cash. You’ll feel better about yourself, and I’ll feel better about you.

[1] Barbara W. Tuchman The March of Folly, From Troy to Vietnam

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ORGANISATIONS TO DONATE TO

American Red Cross

International Red Cross

Doctors without Borders

Also please consider donating to food bank organisations in your country.

Trussel Trust (UK Food banks)

Feeding America

Tim Clark lives in Columbus, OH. He is an employee, a husband, a  father and a blogger. You can see his blog here, Life Explained. He writes occasionally and with pride for Street Speech, a local homeless advocacy newspaper. He is contributor for The Ugly Writers and the Good Men Project. He is particularly vain about his monthly column on The Wild Word. He is working on a novel.

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