Jordan is a unique country because the bulk of its population are refugees. In Australia the fear of being taken over by “boat people” has plagued our media’s coverage of the plight of refugees for decades now and this saddens me.
When I met people and explained what I was doing in Jordan the very first sentence out of their mouths was: “Thank you, thank you for coming to help our refugees. They really need it.” I immediately felt deeply touched by the compassion and care they expressed. It was beautiful and I couldn’t help but to compare it to my own country where that would never be said.
And the reason I say never is because “our” before the word refugees wouldn’t happen. Those who are compassionate about refugees would still call them “the” refugees. The difference is significant and made me consider my own attitudes. I’m all for allowing refugees into Australia and I don’t care how many come. We accept a miserly 13,000 a year at the moment and we have them stuck in detention centres for far too long. I loved the Jordanian way of having hundreds of thousands living in the community, working and being schooled just like everyone else who lived in the country.
I also found it exciting that the tents were eventually replaced with buildings so that cities where built as refugee camps. They had market places and schools and health services but more importantly they didn’t have walls locking them in and there was no barbed-wire. This wasn’t a prison camp, it was their home. Maybe it’s not the home they really want to be living in but making the best of a bad situation with as much dignity and humanity counts for something.
Sometimes the Western world becomes so fixated on finding a permanent solution that they forget to accept valid ways to deal with the immediate situation. There will always be more refugees than any one country can take in. There will always be wars – civil and invasions. Let’s be honest, we all know that America’s financial stability relies on going to war every decade.
Politics and political arms of all groups, governments, and organisations are different to the people of the country. For some reason we living in the West forget this but those most affected by the game of political agendas don’t. I’ve been in Vietnam and Jordan and heard people clearly state the difference between the two.
Only this week someone said “I was told this recently – Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim. Don’t you find that interesting?”
I replied “But what about all the white “terrorists” blowing up buildings in America? There are plenty of radical terrorists in America willing to kill their own for their cause.”
Spoiler Alert: There are evil people in the world! There are people who want to hurt and kill others. There are people who want to dominate and control others. There are people who think they are right and everyone should think and do as they do. But they are a minority.
What we resist persist. Have you noticed that the war on drugs has seen more drugs on our streets, not less? Have you noticed that attempts to destabilise dictator’s leads to more extreme groups taking over power? And more specifically, have you noticed that we are now faced with an even more extreme group than the last extreme group in the Iraq? Going to war to fight the so-called ‘baddies’ isn’t working.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive our hate; only love can do that.”
A culture that breeds an acceptance of domination over others, winning over compassion, exploitation over empathy, and an attitude that others should subjugate themselves or be dismissed as irrelevant manifests the destruction of human dignity. This reality feeds injustice and demands the need for fairer and more just dealings of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and those affected by their actions.
There are no simple answers but there are plenty of humanitarian options to help people recover and re-engage life. Maybe changing our perspectives of the issue is the first step.
Just for a moment I want you to be idealist. If money was no option and human dignity was a priority, what would you want for refugees?