Generally if I'm going to be political it's for body or feminist reasons, things that hit close to home for me. Since this summer, however, when I started reading about how many refugees are in the world, especially from Syria, home has become a bit bigger. My activist home is larger to make room for the millions of displaced people in the world.
I've moved a LOT in the last few years. Not having a home to call my own, having to leave one that I loved, again and again, was painful. It's not as painful as this, of leaving home because it's dangerous; leaving filled with desperation. Few things are, except maybe the loss of a child. And then there was that photo of the little boy on the beach in Greece, face towards the waves in the way no living person's would be. His mother and brother are dead too, but his photo will live on in infamy of what we do to each other in the name of power, greed and hate. I can see him in my mind's eye, clear as day, and I hope I do for the rest of my life. I hope everyone who saw his photos remembers him and tries to do better, to BE better, to their fellow humans. We're all in this together on our little blue dot. Try not to forget that in face of irrational fear of people who are different from you. They're not, really. They just want a home again.
"HOME," by Somali poet Warsan Shire:
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.
by Somali poet, Warsan Shire
Today is Remembrance Day. It's cold and foggy outside. My media streams are full of images in black and white and red; soldiers in tanks, crosses and poppies, medals, uniforms and flags. Services are in an hour, culminating in a minute of silence for the fallen then a single brassy voice will ring out. Silence for the dead, music for the living.
The Great War and the War to End all Wars seems to me, looking far back over my shoulder to 100 years ago, clear cut. The enemy was easy to see, the atrocities committed swiftly (but not swiftly enough) condemned. World domination will not be tolerated. We are all free peoples here on this little blue dot. We may disagree but one cannot exterminate the other.
Then came Korea. And Vietnam. And Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Iraq again, Syria and Egypt and and and the black and white images become grey and green instead; hazy blurred lines between right, wrong and power and politics, and tinted green with money, shadowed black with an oily sheen.
This isn't new, paying for land and riches with the lives of soldiers. It's the oldest way to play the game. But today the eyes and ears of the world, of every person, are everywhere. We have unprecedented power to watch and see for ourselves, if we want too, what's happening in war torn countries. We can tune in or tune out at will, thanks to social media and easy access to smart phones. We can see for ourselves and read for ourselves the current situations simply by opening a web browser and searching for the people who are speaking out.
We all need no more trouble. We need to work harder to pressure our leaders to only commit those who have sworn to serve, to defend, to protect, to die, in just causes. We must find a way to live together in peace and turn our war machines to better uses. In Flander's Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row. No new crosses. No new gardens of the dead.