Saturday, November 21, 2015

We Have to Have Hope

Trigger warning: This post contains graphic images. 
Several people I don't know have come to my personal Facebook page to attack one of my posts about refugees: 

The comments argue against letting Syrians into the US. A Muslim refugee might kill us all.
Is that possible? Sure. But mass shootings happen by white AMERICANS every month in this country. It is not just people with brown skin or who are non-Christian who kill. 
Those who came to my page, saying that we should be fearful of all Muslims and Syrians, argued for us to "be careful" (which translates to not allow them in) are afraid. They believe we should be callous and look at what MIGHT happen instead of what LIKELY will happen (which is nothing but the saving of many, many innocent lives.)

Syria, 2013. Click the image for information.

Let's pause a minute. What's even going on in Syria? According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: "What started as a democratic uprising has now become an overtly sectarian conflict in which civilians are targeted for atrocities based upon their religious and ethnic identity. Members of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority are bearing the brunt of the Syrian government’s massive campaign of crimes against humanity and war crimes, while some of the forces opposing the regime have committed abuses and atrocities against members of Syria’s religious and ethnic minorities...  Nearly one-half of the more than 220,000 killed have been civilians—including an estimated 20,000 children. As sectarian violence becomes more widespread and systematic, there is increasing danger that it could escalate to genocide."
Sudan and Darfur, 2003 to present. Click the image for information.
I feel one thing the Holocaust taught us is that people need to value compassion over fear. If people had spoken up during the Holocaust, if more people had hidden Jews in their homes, if more people had fought back against the angry sentiment... maybe fewer people would have died. But they were taught by the media that Jews were evil. Are we now being taught by the media that Muslims are evil? I believe so.
I'm very sad to say, that if you feel most Muslims are bad people, we cannot be friends. I don't believe that all (or even a large portion of) Muslims or Syrians are bad people, and I don't know that I want to be friends with people who believe that.
I know we should all try to get along. On that note If I saw you on the street I'd still say hi. If you fell down I would still pick you up and ask if you're OK. We can still be civil and good citizens. We don't have to agree on everything. But some things are non-negotiable for me. We can be civil but we don't have to be friends. 
I can't share my thoughts and family memories with others who feel that not all humans are created equal. I just can't believe that some human beings are better than others simply based on a religion or nationality. The Muslim religion teaches love. Muslims around the world are denouncing the recent terrorist act in Paris. It was caused by someone who doesn't subscribe to Muslim views. They (ISIS) have created their own terrorist views.
I can't assume that we need to be so fearful of the possibility of one bad egg that we should be callous to the million good ones. I can't allow history to be repeated because I stood by and allowed hatred and fear to go unchecked. It will not be allowed on my page. I don't believe you can live your life in fear of an entire race or religion.
This kind of sentiment leads to genocide. I have to speak out. I can't sit by.

Genocide. I'm not just talking about the Jewish people in WWII.

Rwanda, 1994. Click the image for information.

Armenia, 1915. Click the image for information.

According to the International Alliance to End Genocide, 
"Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process." Read the Eight Stages of Genocide  
In the first stage, we classify people as "Us vs. Them." To prevent genocide at this stage, we can promote tolerance, and showing the ways that we all have things in common, not just differences.
So, to help with the first step, let me tell you about my neighbors.
Many of my neighbors are refugees from Burma. On both sides of my house, and two across the street. Maybe another 6 more down the street. They are not Muslim but they did leave their country because of persecution. Maybe if I tell you about the refugees I know, you will have less to fear?
My neighbors are kind and polite. They have jobs, their children run and play in the street with my children. The little boy next door loves to ride his bike. He and his little brother wave at us from their window inside when we're out working in the garden. They like to chase our cat and say, "Meow" when they pet her.
 Rylie and Joseph playing with one of our neighbors. 

Their dad came to our garage sale and bought our Fisher Price barn to give to his son. They put up Christmas lights and plant flowers. They have a large vegetable garden in the back yard. Their family is just so glad to be here, away from the horrible things in their native country. Now, does their food smell weird to me? Yeah. I'm sure some of my food smells weird to them. Do they speak English? Some. They are trying.  I don't speak another language. So if I were to have to migrate, I would have to learn, too. We ARE different. But we're also the same. We're all human.
They aren't bad people. They just needed a safe place to call home.
Ethnic cleansing in Burma, 2012. Click the image for information.
So, I started this blog when my son was diagnosed with autism. I called it Hope and Lavender because I felt such deep grief, sorrow, anger, and fear. But I didn't want to feel those things. I knew there still had to be room for Hope. I had hope that the next day could be better.
I feel this way about humanity too. Tomorrow doesn't have to be worse than today. We can have Hope. We have to have Hope.
I feel those with Hope are actually the ones MAKING life better. We're looking for opportunities and embracing them. We're finding ways to improve the world and doing it.
Watercolor quote from Zazzle.
This is my journey. To help others. Families living with autism or other special needs often are told that there is no Hope. Things will never get better. I beg to differ and I hope to show you all practical tools here to make that happen for your family.
Please have Hope, too, for humanity. We CAN embrace compassion over fear. We CAN have Hope. Pay it Forward. Help your neighbor. Lift the fallen.
Most people are good people. Please give them a chance. Please choose Hope.

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