Could You Repeat the Question?

I seem to have lost my train of thought.

I seem to have lost my train of thought down in the subway tunnels.

I know, I’ve been quiet.  You could go so far as to say absent–doing what I have to do, and not a syllable more.

It’s a funny thing.  I’ve heard writing described like a muscle, the more you do it/use it, the more you can write, higher word count and more effective.  The same is true in reverse.  Not working on a novel led to not working on anything fiction, to not reading fiction, to not blogging because what the hell, is anyone actually reading my words anyway?  Despite my descent into sniveling, I’ve received several nudges in the form of notes and emails over the past couple of weeks from people wondering where I am (thank you!), reminding me there are people out there who read Mrs Fringe. If this post is a bit scattered, keep in mind that my writing muscles are a bit stiff.

By now, most days I’m on autopilot for the commute.  Some days I can fully appreciate the opportunity to hear some fine musicians, find a dollar at the bottom of my bag for one of the all-too-many ragged and hungry homeless who are walking those tunnels without benefit of a coat–sometimes not even shoes, note some characters (and quirks) for future writing endeavors, and some days, well,

some days I wonder if I'm going to be humping that 3rd rail after another few years of twelve trains a day.

some days I wonder if I’m going to be humping that 3rd rail after another few years of twelve trains a day.

So where I’ve been is here, and what I’ve been doing is adhering to the if-you-don’t-have-anything-nice-to-say rule.  What makes me come out of cyber-hiding today?  My absolute embarrassment at being a member of the human race right now.  Much as I’d like to be a Time Lord; I have no Tardis, only one heart, only one life, and am in fact limited by time and space.  We won’t even mention the effects of gravity. Same as everyone else on this earth.

But everywhere I look these past few days, I see and hear people playing the my-god-is better-than-your-god game, naturally followed by my-life-is-more-valuable-than-yours.  Last week’s attacks in Paris more than ramped up the worldwide conversation about the Syrian refugees, where they can go, who will take them in, why anyone should.  The attacks in Paris were horrendous, despicable, the result of fear and hatred.  Every act of terrorism is horrific, be it domestic or international.

I’ve read many theories on what to do in order to combat terrorism.  Some of those theories sound good, others make no sense to me at all.  Not being an expert in international relations or politics, I can’t begin to think that I know the best thing to do in order to neutralize (is that the right word?) Isis/Isil/Daesh.  Here’s what I do know.  They are a small group of dangerous nut jobs.  I said it.  SMALL.  And they do not, in my expert opinion as a human being residing on the one and only planet we humans can currently reside on, justify turning our backs on the millions of Syrian refugees who have had to flee from their home.

We, as human beings, have documented waves of refugees (most, if not all, because of religious persecution) dating back to BC times.  Israelites, Huguenots, Muhacirs, Russian Jews, Belgians, Serbians, Armenians, Jews from Eastern and Western Europe during WWII, Palestinians, Ugandans, Cubans, Balkans, Rwandans, Sudanese, Iraqis, and now Syrians.  I’m certain I’ve missed many, and I’m certain the Syrians won’t be the last.  Is there a group, a religion, a nationality that hasn’t been persecuted?–and many have had their turn as the persecutors, as well.  With all this experience, shouldn’t we, as one human race, be able to recognize each other as fellow humans and respond with compassion, instead of reacting with fear and walls and bigotry?  Given the planet’s population, global climate change, and bigger and better weaponry, I would guess waves of displaced peoples will increase with time.  (Unless we eliminate borders.)

I’m not naive, I understand there are problems, logistical and otherwise that come with large numbers of refugees.  But the biggest problem I see is clinging to hatred and xenophobia, pretending that it isn’t “our” problem.

The other day I was on a crowded train and spotted an empty seat next to a woman wearing a niqab.  You know what I did? I sat down.

 

18 comments

  1. What a post. I agree on so many levels, but found myself unable to draft any kind of meaningful response; at least, not without thinking some more. And even now, I struggle to articulate how I feel about what happened in Paris, what has happened around the globe, and happens, and will happen. Couple that with this parsimonious, holier-than-thou/hate mongering/fear mongering, relative to fleeing Syrian citizens desperate for some safe haven…

    I’m not even getting into climate change.

    Or Trump.

    I’m calling these terrorists Daesh because they don’t like it, and I don’t like them. They scare me, and make me want to hide, or get in my van and drive north and keep driving until there are no people at all. They piss me off, make me want to do bad things to them with guns and missiles and pointy things.

    They break my heart.

    We have to act, I know that. But we must be smart about it. We need to stand strong and THINK smart and not make decisions based on fear or hate. We need to out-think these terrorists. We need to familiarize ourselves with their beliefs and methods and goals, and use that knowledge to disarm, disband, defeat them.

    And we need to embrace the refugees who suffer so. This little earth is all we have. People are in dire need and we can’t turn our back from them. Sometimes, a kind word or gesture makes all the difference to somebody. We need more of that, each of us needs to do more of that. I think of that scene from A Christmas Carol: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

    You made it your business, Mrs Fringe. Each of us needs to do that. We all need to do that, however we can.

    xo kk

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    1. Thanks, kk ❤ I really went back and forth about whether to post about this, and if so what to focus on. Ultimately I decided I had to, and I wanted to focus on the refugees because I believe we have a responsibility to speak out, and try to remind our communities that these refugees are people. Not numbers, not statistics, not terrorists, but people. Acting out of fear is never, ever going to be the right choice. It's funny, but when I look at my Facebook feed, the same people who are screaming about potential refugees coming to settle in their country, "we have to help our own/worry about our own!" tend to be the same people who post about not helping their own, not supporting efforts to help those who are most vulnerable in our communities.

      I've seen many clever/funny posts and memes referencing that turning our backs on these refugees being the opposite of what Christianity is supposed to be, but in a way, I wonder if these jokes support the root problem, whose religion is the right one, which interpretation of the bible (or koran, or torah) is the only valid one.

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      1. Yep. I wanted to post something meaningful, relieve my own angst somehow. I’m glad you wrote this, and that you brought refugees to the forefront. I’m guessing most Caucasians living in the U.S. today have relatives who were refugees once. From all over the place. With different languages, different religious beliefs, different ways of doing things. Many fled from unconscionable conditions, and found a home here. We owe it to the desperate to open our borders and our hearts.

        You’re right, refugees are people. We’re dealing with people and I’m telling myself this, because I am struggling with this. Oppressors and oppressed alike are people. Those who chose terror or over compassion are misguided and I can’t help but feel sad for them, too, when I’m not thinking about breaking their necks. I see these young people blowing themselves up. For what? So many of the people who chose ISIS were disenfranchised. Everybody is looking for something, and if you don’t find what you need…

        I don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, yes, yes! I’m most familiar with US history, and therefore keep thinking wtf? How many people are there outside of Native Americans (because this was their land) and African Americans (because their descendants didn’t come by choice) whose relatives didn’t come because they were seeking freedom, food, and, yanno, safety?

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  2. Great post. Down here we have little local groups that push the idea of Spare Rooms For Refugees; these had sprung up before the refugee flow into Europe. You put your name on a list offering to house and help settle a refugee or refugee family in your spare room, and keep notifying the government that you’re still there and still willing. Once the flood from Syria started, even more people signed up – and I haven’t heard of anyone leaving since Paris. They are small, these groups, but they do show hope.

    If only the government didn’t keep playing the fear-and-loathing card, things would happed quite differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another bloody great post just saying, I so agree with you are you surprised by that, or maybe you know me well enough to not be surprised, have to say if I boarded a train, bus or what ever and there was a woman wearing a niqab I would sit next to her in a heartbeat why because I am not a narrow minded asshole like some people

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joanne. I am surprised by *some* of the people I’m seeing the vitriol from. Seems to me we should have learned more/come farther than we have. Surprised or not, I’m deeply saddened by what appears to be growing prejudices and xenophobia.

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  4. I thought about emailing you the other day, and now I’m sorry I didn’t! Very glad to see you back ❤

    It's terrible, what we're willing to do to each other based on a few words, or a piece of cloth. It's terrible and shameful. But. I see a lot of people angry about it, justifiably and righteously so, and I hope that maybe, maybe, a shift will occur. I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a woman who also comes from abroad and makes her life in the US, it is impossible for me to turn my back to anyone arriving from anywhere and settling anywhere for a safer life. Sadly the last events in Paris and other European countries can change the most open-minded people. I’m not an expert in foreign policies and only listen to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These events can change minds– when the thoughts come from fear. I understand initial fear, but when the facts get sorted, decisions must be made on what is/isn’t real, not shadows.

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