Courage For The Journey

Today, our fates are decided by what side of the ocean we wake up on. In the merciless face of terror and war; merit, intelligence and political affiliation all melts away and suddenly our entire identity revolves around what country we are from and the colour of our skin. Geography dictates our survival. The sanctity of life has become based on those born in the safe places and those running from their once-home land.

The safe versus the fleeing

The settled versus the refugee

Us against them

We will all need courage for this journey.

“Be brave.” She whispers to her two year old son, eyes heavy from the long journey to the shore. He cries quietly for the comfort of his own bed, not knowing that he will never lie there again. There are no life jackets and too many people. Terrified masses. Desperate to save their own. To get their own babies to safety. It was too late to save her husband and her eldest, she would not lose her precious babe too. She climbs into the boat and says a prayer. Be brave, be brave, be brave.

“MIGRANTS SWARM EUROPE!”

Headlines scream as desperate families flee their burning homes.

“THEY ARE HERE FOR OUR JOBS! OUR BENEFITS! OUR WOMEN! OUR CHILDREN!”

Tabloids stir up fear of people who have held the remains of butchered loved ones.

“SEND THEM BACK!”

They cry, as though there was a way to go back. As though these people chose to come here. As though they chose to leave all that they knew.

The fear mongering grows stronger and people we know and love reveal their worries through retweets and shared videos.

There is fear everywhere. It is in the air.

Of a race.

Of a different people.

Among is all a strange sense of déjà vu.

As we bury our heads and ignore mass suffering.

It is eerily familiar.

‘Never again.’

She clings to her little life she pledged to keep safe. She pushes his face into her breast, to hide him from the ferocious master that surrounds them. The black abyss threatens to consume them with every wave: A captor thirsty for ransom. She closes her eyes only to be met with fire and terror. Trapped by familiar faces and painful memories. Cruelty so extreme she could scarcely comprehend it. No, she cannot close her eyes. As the boat rocks menacingly, she kisses her terrified babe gently. 

Yes, the dry land behind us was worse.  

What could I possibly know of courage? I ponder it, sit with it, while sipping a coffee in a staggeringly white, middle class coffee shop. How am I possibly entitled to speak of such a thing? My sickeningly privileged frame of reference struggles to think of a time I have ever, truly needed it.

What do I know of courage? I wonder, knowing that as I rack my brains a mother and her baby are out there somewhere, facing a stormy, bottomless ocean and that another mother, closer to home, was murdered for trying to help them.

My courage for my journey, and perhaps for yours, looks different.

We need this courage, to resist the ugly urge we all have somewhere to bury our heads and close our doors. To use difference as an excuse to do nothing, while refusing to acknowledge the similar.

Our courage is present at the safe harbours, where the boats come in.

Our courage is smaller, quieter and our journey perhaps is less treacherous.

Our courage, must be one of resistance and openness.

A refusal to let fear trump love and acceptance. A refusal to allow difference to hide what is similar.

“We have far more in common with each other than that which divides us”

– Jo Cox. (1974-2016)

Amy Waner