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19 November 2015 / leggypeggy

A voice of reason, a voice of compassion

Syria welcomed me with open arms.

That was back in 1980, when I was pregnant with our first child and Poor John was there with Australia’s diplomatic corps. It was a wonderful posting and we were always well treated.

During a meat strike, the butcher looked at my ever-expanding waistline and gave me the choicest cuts (granted I did mention that I was pregnant and not just getting fat).

I have lots of wonderful stories about our time there 35 years ago and on our return in 2009, but right now the stories from Syria are not good. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced or dead. The rest of the world is trying to figure out how to help.

Europe and countries surrounding Syria are woking hard to deal with the influx. And some of the world is making it difficult for everyone.

Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this uncaring and inhumane behaviour, And then my cousin, Colleen, said it so beautifully and eloquently.

I asked her if I could share it here and she said yes. I’d be delighted if her message is shared far and wide because it’s filled with truth, reason and compassion. Thanks Colleen, for putting my thoughts into words.

—————————–

‘Facebook wants to know, ‘What’s on your mind?’ Well, here it is:
I’ve been thinking about the question of whether or not to take in Syrian refugees if there is a risk of taking in one who would do us harm.

‘When the ground is shifting underneath us it’s hard to tell where safe ground is. My arms are open to anyone standing at the edge of a chasm, as I count on there being open arms to take me in when the ground opens up under me.

‘Is there a risk taking foreign strangers into our home? Yes. And we have plenty of home-grown strangers who are more than willing to do us harm, too. We take a risk just getting up out of bed every morning; it’s a dangerous world.

‘All I have control over is my small patch. I’m trying to create a safe haven here on that patch for friends, family, neighbors, strangers and anyone in need of what is offered, with the memory of the times I’ve been the one needing love, care, resources and support, and found it in abundance.

‘What I offer is payback for all the gifts I’ve been given and the knowledge that I have more than I need. I’m not naive—it’s a conscious decision to expect the good that people have inside them, and not the evil that each of us also have inside us.

‘People seem to rise to expectations—if you expect them to behave badly, they won’t disappoint you. If you expect them to be honorable and kind, they more often will.

‘Other waves of immigrants have been coming to this country just in my lifetime that also filled us with fear: Hungary, Cuba, China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Soviets, Uganda, Nicaragua, Iran, Afghanistan, Haiti, Poland, Kuwait, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Liberia, and Somalia.

‘Some of these countries have been represented on more than one specific time over the past 59 years I’ve been alive—since countries living on the edge need only a slight push from a natural disaster or famine or insurgency to tip them over the edge into a free-fall.

‘We’ve taken all of them in and there will be more coming along.

‘I’m so grateful that we have only once been in the position of needing sympathy and support from the rest of the world, and it came immediately and in all forms—after 9/11 there was a world-wide outpouring of both.

‘Just one such example is being celebrated in a new musical showing in Seattle currently—Come From Away, about the instant, sincere and gracious hospitality shown to the 6700 passengers on the flights that were grounded in Newfoundland and Labrador on 9/11.

‘This planet is our home. We all live here and it steadfastly and patiently ignores the lines we’ve drawn across it denoting which soil, sky and water is ‘ours’.

‘Parts of the world where some of us live provide a more precarious existence than we have scratched out for ourselves in North America. So far.

‘The planet’s shifting ground, seas and atmosphere have been sending signals that this benevolence could change at any moment. The bounty we’ve enjoyed may end sooner or later, and I would rather have a friendly, open-arms relationship with the rest of the world, with a history of helping others in times of trouble than to be safely locked behind a very high wall built to keep others out, slowly and safely starving to death because we’ve no one to turn to.’

Home is that place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. – Robert Frost

60 Comments

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  1. Frankie Smith / Nov 19 2015 10:37 pm

    May I please post this on my Facebook page? I am trying so hard to help my FB community understand hospitality. I am concerned with how dark and full of hate so many posts are becoming. I have thought about unfollowing people, yet recalled scripture about being a light on a hill.

    Liked by 5 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 19 2015 10:41 pm

      I think my cousin would be delighted to have it re-posted. Just give her credit—Colleen Jury.

      Like

  2. Vicki / Nov 19 2015 11:40 pm

    I agree with Colleen.

    As you say Peggy – its hard to find the words.

    I’d like to think that others would offer their help if I was in need.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. pagedogs / Nov 20 2015 12:16 am

    I’m glad you shared this Peggy, it’s well and thoughtfully put. It all comes down to the old standby golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It works every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. milliethom / Nov 20 2015 2:54 am

    Thank you Peggy, for posting this thought-provoking article of your cousin’s. Her sentiments are truly heatrfelt, and I’d like to think they are shared by most of us who have comfortable – and safe – places in which to live ourselves. I agree with everything said about caring for those in need, and the importance of considering the future of this world that we all share.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 20 2015 10:06 am

      I’m so glad Colleen was happy for me to share it. The only pity is that it had to be written in the first place.

      Like

  5. Laurie / Nov 20 2015 4:54 am

    Thank you Peggy. There seems to be a lot of people out there who have lost their way due to fear. I am sad they’ve lost their empathy. I always try to remember it could be me or mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cryptic Garland / Nov 20 2015 8:10 am

    Fantastic. One continuing problem is that the newspapers and the TV give coverage to the small number of vicious hateful people who would bring back a Nazi regime of racism and who manipulate the ideals of true religion. Unfortunately a very small number of poisonous people can infect the body of a nation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 20 2015 10:15 am

      I get so annoyed when the media give exposure to the poisonous voices. I’ve decided to boycott those that do.

      Like

      • Cryptic Garland / Nov 20 2015 11:37 am

        Maybe you should have an annoyed photo for your Gravatar and change it now and then.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. lmo58 / Nov 20 2015 10:04 am

    Thanks for posting this Peggy. It’s very reassuring to know that there are at least a few people with a speck of humanity left in them.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 20 2015 10:16 am

      I think there are more than a few. At least I hope so.

      Like

  8. Gary Walker / Nov 20 2015 11:50 am

    Said well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. simpletravelourway / Nov 20 2015 2:48 pm

    So well said and so true. Thanks for the post. We are so disappointed that in this country of almost all immigrants, we seem to have forgotten that our ancestors were welcomed to this country. But now that they are in, most would like to slam the door and lock it so no others can follow. How very, very sad.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. thegreyeye / Nov 20 2015 6:54 pm

    Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lynz Real Cooking / Nov 21 2015 10:08 am

    Wonderful words!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. chattykerry / Nov 21 2015 12:25 pm

    This is wonderful. More compassion, less hate. I am still reeling from the stupidity of Senator Ted Cruz who suggested that we allow in only Jewish and Christian refugees…hasn’t he read our constitution?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mistermuse / Nov 21 2015 4:12 pm

    What President Reagan said years ago regarding a treaty with Russia (“Trust but verify”) strikes me as a common sense approach with regard to taking in refugees: empathy and goodwill, together with due diligence in screening for would-be terrorists. From what I’ve read and heard, we already have such a screening process in place, and it is working well, despite those would have us believe otherwise. If we give in to the fear peddlers, what America stands for is lost. In short, let us reach out with compassion, but not be naïve about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. agenda19892010 / Nov 22 2015 7:50 am

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Curious to the Max / Nov 22 2015 8:12 am

    Peggy, What a wonderful cousin! Thank you for sharing her words.

    “As a man himself sows, so he himself reaps; no man inherits the good or evil act of another man. The fruit is of the same quality as the action.” – the Mahabharata

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2015 8:56 am

      I was so pleased she was happy for me to share it. And what a great quote you’ve shared. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sy S. / Nov 22 2015 10:12 am

    Peggy,

    I have been waiting a while to add my comments regarding this blog and your cousin Colleen’s comments : >>I’ve been thinking about the question of whether or not to take in Syrian refugees if there is a risk of taking in one who would do us harm.<<
    There is always the risk of bringing in a refugee family to your home and/or helping a family out to resettle in a new land. However, I think the risk is low, since most refugees just want a better life for their family… and are willing to work, earn a living, have a roof over their heads, food on their table… and a chance for their children to get a good education.

    Further, America have always welcomed refugees and immigrants and they have often contributed to our society. One example is Steve Jobs who started up the computer firm Apple, his father immigrated from Syria. And Albert Einstein from Germany, just to name two. The URL Peggy posted (noted below), is an important read; America has a rigorous process for screening potential refugees. Here’s a excellent explanation from a US immigration lawyer.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/cosmostheinlost/2015/11/19/exclusive-longtime-immigration-lawyer-pastor-explains-the-refugee-process/

    Sy.S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2015 11:26 am

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Sy. I agree that the risk of a terrorist coming into the USA is low and, more likely, non existent. The screening process is just too thorough. The great risk is home-grown trouble makers or those who manage to come in as supposed tourists

      And of course, we need to remember that with the exception of the Native Americans and those transported against their will, virtually everyone came to America seeking a better life.

      Like

  17. Sheryl / Nov 22 2015 3:22 pm

    Well said; beautifully and thoughtfully expressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2015 4:02 pm

      Thanks. I’m so pleased my cousin, Colleen, was happy for me to share her words.

      Like

  18. The Sock Mistress / Nov 22 2015 4:25 pm

    If it was my family who needed a safe place to land due to terrorism and war, I would hope someone would show me some compassion too. I have shared this with my twitter followers.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Carol Ferenc / Nov 24 2015 6:18 am

    Colleen is a very talented writer ~ she’s the voice of compassion. I think about all four of my grandparents, young immigrants to the U.S. They were given the opportunity to make new lives for themselves and they worked hard to be productive, tax-paying, peaceful citizens of the adopted country they loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 24 2015 7:25 am

      Hi Carol, thanks so much for stopping by. You are so right. Migrants enrich the country they adopt with culture and hard work. They get jobs, pay taxes and volunteer in the community.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. thegreyeye / Nov 26 2015 7:32 am

    Happy Thanksgiving! I don’t know much about it. but wish you and your family every happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jamie Dedes / Nov 29 2015 1:01 am

    Well done. Much appeciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jamie Dedes / Nov 29 2015 1:05 am

    Always appreciate a bit of an intro. Thank you for one to you and “Poor” John. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. agenda19892010 / Nov 29 2015 10:47 pm

    Felice domenica per te amica mia.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Jane / Dec 1 2015 6:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Peggy. I live in a very multicultural suburb made up of many refugees. I am a better person for having their presence in my life, reminding me of how much I have to be thankful for. I cannot imagine how traumatic it must be as a parent of children and trying to flee from such terror and chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 1 2015 8:27 pm

      Refugees have contributed so much to Australia. The whole country is richer for them. As for fleeing from terror, I cannot imagine the trauma, chaos and heartbreak that causes.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. dougstuber / Dec 4 2015 11:52 am

    And the most horrific of terrors? War.

    Christmas 2006 (7?, 8?, 9?…2012)

    (All Together now, in Chipmunk-esque
    squeals, just like Alvin and the Chipmunks
    have sung it since the 60s)

    Christmas comes but once a year,
    soldiers bloodied, Mother’s tears,
    bombs exploding in the air,
    it’s Christmas everywhere!

    Barons sipping booze or tea,
    greed leads to frivolity,
    one man’s toil is another-kids toy,
    it’s Christmas in Hanoi.

    Farm girls walk to city lights,
    paddies shimmer by moonlight,
    no one left to grow rice high,
    it’s Christmas in Shanghai.

    Now she sits at sewing machines,
    making clothes for Wal-Mart Queens
    she takes home a buck a day,
    it’s Christmas in Bombay. (Mumbai)

    One hundred forty hour weeks,
    raped and left no food to eat,
    import maids, Sri Lanka’s poor,
    it’s Christmas Singapore.

    Catholic Mass in Spanish here,
    Argentina has great fear
    The IMF has had their say
    Guess who is going to pay?

    Now the Dems have won their seats
    still no nerve to scream “impeach,”
    It seems they’re also on the take,
    Which SUCKS for goodness sake!

    Bush is set on World War three
    claims tax cuts will set us free
    Look, a tear in Laura’s eye
    The Whitehouse is a sty.

    Habeas Corpus is long gone
    Now King George can have his fun
    The law was passed here just in time
    To root-out left-wing slime.

    Osama thumbs his princely nose
    Knowing Dad is Bush’s Bro,
    The oil secured keeps China at bay
    It’s Christmas all the way.

    Now Osama’s dead and gone
    Who will be the next war pawn?
    Syria, Libya, Iran, no WAIT!
    Christmas is way past late.

    Barack Obama’s our new man
    He spreads the war to Pakistan,
    Drones are flying up above
    Spreading Christmas love.

    So go out and shop some more
    Buy something from every store
    The fascist status quo gains power
    with every shopping hour.

    Christmas comes but once a year,
    Bloodied soldiers, Mother’s tears,
    bombs exploding in the air
    it’s Christmas everywhere!

    Bombs exploding in the air
    It’s Christmas everywhere!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 6 2015 3:02 pm

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this Christmas could see the end of war.

      Like

  26. toritto / Dec 10 2015 1:16 am

    What a nice read to wake up to this morning! I too am trying to stay welcoming.

    https://toritto.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/dancing-with-syrians/

    Please visit me again; its how I followed you here. Regards from Florida

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 1:36 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. I found your blog through another Nebraskan. It’s a wonderful read.

      Like

  27. tony / Dec 10 2015 4:29 pm

    Peggy, I keep thinking back to that documentary we saw together Freedom Stories by Steve Thomas. All those refugees from ravaged countries were wonderful new citizens to Australia contributing to society. Similar to all the waves of refugees we’ve had in Australia. Yet, they were all damaged people because they’d been locked up for long periods in our name.

    Syria is just another in an inevitable growth of refugee issues brought about by conflict and climate change. How are we going to deal with this in future, if we can’t force our governments to deal with refugees with compassion now and instead they fuel the fear.

    A lovely post in opposition!
    Breadtagsagas.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 5:01 pm

      Governments would be well served to highlight the huge contributions made by refugees. They’ve given back more than they’ve ever received.

      Like

  28. dougstuber / Dec 12 2015 12:50 pm

    Fallujah Fandango

    No greater power rose then fell so low

    Than currently mounts the throne, an outhouse seat.

    As, to itty bits the Middle East we blow.

    It all started decades before San Bernadino

    As bomb doors opened, Belgrade to Tekreet.

    No greater power rose then fell so low.

    Before the next attack, the people pack and go

    Through Macedonia or Crete.

    As, to itty bits the Middle East we blow.

    The drone scout screams “Look out below!”

    Refugees submit to smuggling cheats.

    No greater power rose then fell so low.

    So gather near, learn how to fix, and build and grow.

    Cherish these the last days of the feast.

    No greater power rose then fell so low.

    As, to itty bits the Middle East we blow.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. federica pedullà / Jan 29 2016 5:37 am

    I am with your heart leggypeggy!

    Liked by 1 person

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