On The Refugee Crisis: America The Absentminded

Syrian boy washes on Turkish shore due to the migrant crisis. Photo Cred: Dogan News Agency / European Pressphoto Agency)
Syrian boy washes on Turkish shore due to the migrant crisis. Photo Cred: Dogan News Agency / European Pressphoto Agency)

By Lelosa Imasuen

Now I wouldn’t say I’m an animal rights activist and the brutal slaying of Cecil the lion didn’t sadden me to the extent to have an opinion on the matter let alone comment about it. But to see the rest of the world respond, the many social media posts in outrage went on for a pretty long time. My question is why isn’t everyone enraged and saddened about these poor Syrian refugees especially when two million of them are children? I know America cannot save the entire world but I find it fascinating that I haven’t seen too many posts about the plight of these lost souls…Have we become that hardened as a society?

The violence in Syria began in March 2001 and that country has been almost destroyed by a brutal civil war ever since. The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have died in the conflicts between President Bashar al- Assad’s government and the assorted rebel forces that want him out. This attention towards this versus the killing of a lion, I see more people on social media seeming to be more passionate about the lion and not saying much about Syria.

So a lion was killed all the way in South Africa, in a country where millions of children still live in extreme poverty since birth. Have we become so used to hearing about their poverty to the point where we just say to ourselves “aw, how sad,” and go about our day? In the movie Hotel Rwanda there was a quote that Don Cheadle’s character said when talking about the Rwandan genocide, “How can they not do anything? Don’t they care?” and the response by Joaquin Phoenix’s character was, “I think that when people turn on their TVs and see this footage, they’ll say, ‘Oh my God, that’s horrible,’ and then they’ll go back to eating their dinners.” Though I don’t agree 100 percent with that quote I do believe that people will rant for a couple of minutes. If we are lucky a couple of days about topics in the world that to others are not deemed as important but after their rants are finished, the weekend will come and that’s it, they forget or become too busy with their own lives. With Cecil the lion it went on for about two weeks.

But when it comes to the lives of innocent children it’s largely silence.

Several European countries are closing their borders to refugees escaping war so thousands of them are living in poverty in camps and tents in Jordan, Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. They are trying to reach Europe because that is their last hope of survival. Many people have this misconception that the refugees are after our tax money and our jobs. I don’t think that’s it, I believe they are just trying to protect their families and themselves. A CNN commentator explained it better saying that they are called “War Refugees” not “Migrants” that’s it.

In late August a truck in Austria was found with 71 dead refugees who were trying to cross the border and died of suffocation. The drivers deserted the truck and were later arrested, but again, the news cycle consumed the story and the public outcry quickly vanished.

Millions of people shared the post about Cecil the lion and they signed many petitions to raise awareness and for our government to take action against such a huge evil act for a poor defenseless lion. I’m curious as to where the many petitions to help these war refugees are. We can’t always be a society who focuses on animals, not saying that their lives aren’t worth it. I just do not believe that the lives of endangered species are worth more than the lives of people. In different commercials about donating to defenseless animals such as cats and dogs who have been abused. A child is just as defenseless and they are too young to fully understand why this is happening to them.

They have taken any means necessary to get out of Syria and other conflict zones. They have created makeshift boats that of course aren’t safe. They make them anyway just to have that chance, that small window of opportunity to make it. But unfortunately many of these boats can’t last and thousands of the refugees including children have lost their lives.

This is happening now and it’s been happening and I feel like people are afraid to talk about it. I know the government is “watching” everything we do and everything we say but but people need to speak up.

I honestly hope that nothing of this magnitude ever happens to Americans where we have to physically leave this country because someone has completely taken over and destroyed it. Who would help us? Who can we say as Americans will help us without hesitation? Who?

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