The Völkerwanderung continues in Europe and the powers-that-be have shown themselves to be the powers-that-ain’t. The leaders seem as flummoxed and as ineffectual as ever–they just can’t figure out what to do, and the people just keep coming. Yes, there is a lull in the war in eastern Syria, but none in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the lull makes it easier to head for the coast. The result: boatloads of migrants still risking their lives to escape war, camps full of desperate people stranded on closed borders, cities and towns with an exploding new underclass of refugees, and surging xenophobic parties ripe for demagoguery, just like here in the United States.
But amidst the wrangling and wringing of hands at the summits as they search for a solution, there is one thing that has brought everyone together. That unforgettable photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, drowned on the beach, slices through the confusion and pierces our hearts, no matter which side we’re on.
This is the Sacrament of Birth speaking to us, that sacred place in our hearts where we pledge unconditional love for our newborns, and the extension of that holy moment is the love we feel for children as they grow. This is a universal: you don’t have to belong to a particular tribe or religion to experience this love, or the sorrow that comes when that young life, so full of potential, is lost.
If there is any hope for the future, it must be built on this common ground, a solid foundation of the compassionate feelings that make us who we are: human beings. Compassion is the unifying force of our humanity, the glue that will hold the world together. Religion at its best teaches us compassion but at its worst, it is a dividing force. Its prescriptions and proscriptions, its prejudices and power plays are what is dividing the world into warring camps and driving one half of the world to invade the other.
There is only one answer for Syria: partition. Until each side can have their slice of land to call their own, they’ll fight to the death.
There is only one answer for the world: compassion. Until all sides in all conflicts can put a desire to help those in need above the desire for domination, we’re all in danger.
If you liked this try: “The Migrants of Europe and the Barbarian Invasions”