2 months ago
Today is World Refugee Day. It is also almost one year to the day when I encountered a Syrian refugee while in Casablanca, Morocco—something that has been weighing heavily on me today. ~~~ I was overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, just outside the Hassan II Mosque, when I was approached by a man, probably in his 50s. He cheerfully said to me, “I bet you are from the same city as Jim Morrison!” He said he learned to speak English from listening to The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. He then asked me if I’d heard of Syria. He said it was a nice place to visit, “but not right now.” He told me that he was forced to flee due to the war; he trekked through Greece only to be turned away at the Bulgarian border. He then ended up in Morocco where he hoped to board a ship to Europe. I asked him how he liked Morocco. He said it was nice, but he found it nearly impossible to find stable employment there. I gave him the cash that I had in my pocket so he could get a meal, and we parted ways. I can’t help but wonder where he is now. ~~~ I felt an overwhelming sense of shame that my country’s government has caused so much pain, destruction, and instability throughout the world... Like the illegal, unjust war based entirely on false pretenses in Iraq... an act that completely destabilized the region and allowed extremist groups like ISIS to rise up in the power vacuum and eventually spread into neighboring Syria, where the US then proceeded to bomb and cause more destruction. And now the Trump administration is desperately pushing for regime change wars in Iran and Venezuela—two more unjust wars that would have disastrous effects on their regions and would likely result in millions of deaths and even more displaced. ~~~ I haven’t even mentioned the Latin American migrant crisis. Many people are fleeing cartel violence caused by the war on drugs. The prohibition and criminalization of drugs has pushed the industry underground to the black market where the most violent people have a monopoly on the market. ~~~ This is why it is important to me to be politically involved and to support politicians who stand up to the worst aspects of US policy. We owe the world better.