Aylan Kurdi

September 03, 2015

I lay by my sleeping son and stare.

It sounds a bit stalkerish, and perhaps it is. I look at him and then back at this screen, hoping for words that make sense, hoping his peacefulness can heal my soul.

Before nap time I looked at the news. Perhaps it was a mistake, but I don't think so. Ignorance isn't really bliss, it's an excuse. Yet another story of desperate refugees from Syria dying when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Only this time a photo stopped my breath. 

A three-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, lying on his stomach on the shore, water lapping up at his face.

He's dressed in clothes not much different from what my three-year-old son wore today. Was he also wearing a red shirt because it's what his favorite stuffed buddy, Winnie-the-Pooh, wears? Did his dad also pick out the blue shorts since they look good with the shirt? Did he also recently get those shoes as hand-me-downs from a family friend? 

I want to shout. 

I want to close my eyes and hope it was a bad dream.

I listen as my son breathes in and out. I want to squeeze him, but I let him sleep. When he awakes he'll probably want to splash in a little swimming pool. For him, water is safe and fun. 

Reading another story I learn the boy's older brother and mother also drowned, but his father survived. I look around. 

I can't imagine living in a land so dangerous that the wild sea is safer. I can't imagine hopping in an unstable boat with my son and hoping we make it across the sea. Yet many people are faced with that reality. They seek the small chance they can provide a better life for their kids. 

Meanwhile, people who think they should be president of the United States are running around complaining about "anchor babies." Those candidates call themselves "pro-life," but they clearly just mean they are "anti-abortion." Someone who is pro-life doesn't demean precious children with such hateful rhetoric. These candidates gush about God, but it seems like just a political tactic.

Those same candidates want to build a wall to keep people out, many of whom are children traveling alone as they flee violence. Maybe we should even build two walls, a candidate suggested - one on the northern border in addition to a southern one. Maybe even a moat. Maybe even alligators, or hippos, or whatever it takes to keep those people out. Could we build a new Mediterranean Sea on the border to keep them out?

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban argued refugees must be kept out because they are mostly Muslim, and therefore threaten to destroy "Europe's own Christian values." He's partially right. This is a test of Europe's Christianity ... and they are currently failing. As are we in the United States. 

Walling off the country to protect its "Christian" identity and heritage is actually unchristian. To look away as small kids drown is what will destroy a nation's "Christian identity and heritage. This is not some hypothetical political debate. We are talking about real people with real dreams, real hopes, real families. People like Aylan Kurdi.


Do Something:

It's good to learn, care, and pray. But feeling unable to help in crises can sometimes feel quite defeating. Fortunately, there are many charities working to help refugees like Aylan Kurdi's family. Pick a reputable charity with a proven track record. I recommend the Mennonite Central Committee.