S is for Syria, Sadness and Solomon

I’ve been desperately trying to avoid writing this one. But really – what else could ‘S’ be for but Syria.

My avoidance has not been apathy, it’s been helplessness. What can I say that has not already been said? And even if I did come up with something new, what would it be worth in the great scheme of what is happening across the Middle East and Europe?

The statues in the image below are part of the Irish Famine Memorial; a haunting depiction of the helpless, hopeless Irish people who had no option but to emigrate or die of starvation. The gaunt faces remind me of images of Live Aid in 1985. To think that hunger and death was once so close to home is still shocking to me.  It’s said that through death and emigration, Ireland lost about 4 million people.

irish famine syrian


I’m not sure who first made and posted the ‘photoshopped’ image above. I’ve seen it a few times on social media and grabbed this copy from the Irish Times website. But I have to say, it stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. I was all for helping Syrian refugees, “Let them in by all means – and fast. But hang on… what about the numbers, and what about the ones who are going to make trouble and what if there isn’t enough room for us all (to live undisturbed I mean…)?”

Then I saw that merged photo and I was moved to tears; because I knew, if they were Irish people I wouldn’t be asking any questions other than – ‘what are you going to do to help?”

I remember that scene in the Titanic movie, when they wouldn’t let more people on the lifeboats for fear they would buckle or topple over. Fear, grief and more than a little self-preservation put a limit on who could be rescued. I’m not judging, I’d have been the same, I’m sure.

So what is to be done? What is the answer? I believe the wisdom of Solomon is needed for this crisis. A whole nation of displaced, terrified, people are on the move looking for a chance to raise their families in peace and safety. Who am I to say they should be denied that? And as for the talk of those whose intentions are not for peace, but for getting their terrorist agenda in under the radar…? Well I doubt every Irish person who emigrated had the purist of intentions; but America and Australia and the other countries they fled to still stand.

Who decides who is worthy of a chance to live anyway – good or bad? It isn’t me. The instructions I read in my Bible are clear about mercy and love, about welcoming the alien and feeding the poor – it doesn’t say… “but only the nice ones.”

And still I confess there is a nagging feeling in my gut. One that scares me about a massive influx of displaced people – into my place. What will my world be like when the dust settles and the unsettled have settled?

You see…? I told you my words would not be worth much!

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