I wrote a few days ago about how I felt I was the true refugee (in the older sense of the word) – how the heartbreaking images had me “fleeing back” to my “hiding place”. Well that will not be possible anymore. The crisis has come to our doorstep.
A week ago, I was relieved to see Austrians welcoming the refugees into the country. (Of course, there were a few cynical cartoons showing good Samaritans at the border holding two signs: one saying “Welcome” and the other with an arrow saying “This Way to Germany”.) At that time, the flood was coming over a border crossing two hours away from here.
Last night a group of about 1500 people came over the border 15 minutes from here to a small town hardly able to cope with the numbers. And by all accounts, more are on the way. A lot more. Hungary is pushing them out and Germany has closed its border, so the problems will have to be dealt with here. And now.
Our school has an extra building that could provide shelter to about 50 people and we are working on the logistics of offering this space. Migrants, asylum seekers and human rights have become our official first topics in World Studies and we might be getting actively involved if students and parents are okay with the idea. Here at home we are going through every closet and storage space to look for useful items we could bring to the border stations – even though they are saying that isn’t really helpful. We have even considered taking a family in to our home, but our senile old dog (who we don’t trust around strangers and children) is a problem we see no solution for. Of course, money is what helps the most and we have donated to the local Red Cross. But that is so . . . abstract. What we need is to DO SOMETHING. And we can’t really figure out what.
We have been having conversations completely foreign to us. Coming to the conclusion that someone with the power and the means should DO SOMETHING! Then we realize, with revulsion, that we what we are really talking about is bombing the hell out of a place. Killing more people. To make it stop.
Such thoughts make me want to flee back to my hiding place.
So I click on to MSNBC and listen to report after ridiculous report about Donald Trump and his latest outrageous triumph. In between somewhere, I hear a short update on the refugee crisis and how the US is slowly and deliberately considering taking in more Syrian people than the 1500 they have so far. 1500. The same number that came through here just last night.