By: Nick Scott
This is a continuation of an article published yesterday, available here.
At this point, you’re probably reading this, thinking that my arguments are as confusing as the conflict itself, raging, “Pick a side, and stop flip-flopping on the issue like a damn fish!” But really, in terms of the conflict, I don’t really have a helpful opinion on the matter. Bombing is stupid, but so is doing nothing. A “diplomatic” solution wouldn’t solve anything either; The concept of the sanctions against Assad were idiotic. The Alawites would never give up their power over… what, trade? They get enough from Russia and Iran as it is (a diet consisting mainly of armaments) so why would they care about what the U.S. or their various other allies do? There’s no one answer to this extremely complex issue, and if you hear someone declaring otherwise, they’re either very opinionated or very stupid (oftentimes people can be both).
If there is one thing that we should all agree on, it is that the people displaced by this conflict need help. Not only is it our societal duty because of our implications in the destruction of Syria, but also out of a sense of compassion, of humanity, of respect and of mutual love. For those of you that may snicker at this, how many of you have seen the picture of Alan Kurdi and didn’t shudder, or feel something just…. turn off? During the elections, both here and across the border, there is talk about whether we should allow Syrian refugees at all, and if so, how many. The “If” should not even be a question. The fact that it even is being discussed is, to be frank, contemptible and disgusting.
Instead, we should focus on the “how many” question, and the answer is more. Always more. By the estimates of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of August 29, 2015, there are 4,088,079 refugees fleeing from the conflict, which is, of course an extremely conservative estimate. Of these 4,088,079, the highest that the outgoing Harper government promised is to bring in 25,000 by January 1, 2016, with no mention of what will come after. Up until now, Canada has accepted around 2,500 Syrian refugees. Hopefully, you can see how we must do more. 25,000 people is less than 1% of the total number of refugees fleeing the conflict. In comparison, Germany expects to receive 800,000 refugees this year, and 500,000 annually for the next few years. And at best, we promise to take in 25,000? Germany isn’t even part of the coalition responsible for the bombings in Syria, and yet they put us all to shame.
And if this teaching of the Golden Rule, to treat others with the respect that you yourself wish to be treated, is not a convincing argument, then consider our responsibilities. We are responsible not only for the historical support of the Alawites or the military actions we have taken in Syria, but in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Congo… the list goes on. I think it’s time that we came to terms with our past, and realized that it is not an option, but a duty as a society, to do everything we can to help the people displaced by these conflicts.
In conclusion, no matter who you voted for, or why, I urge you only to strongly push your elected representative for a stronger commitment to bringing in more Syrian refugees. Let your voice be heard that you stand for compassion, love and respect for all humankind. It’s time that we as a society did our part, but that can only be possible when “we” as individuals come together to make that commitment.
There is so much more that we can do.