Dear Prime Minister Abbott,
Did you see it? I’m sure you did. I wonder how many times you looked at it…if you had to look away while your mind thought of a justification to smother the screams that I do believe, would’ve been fighting to come out from somewhere deep inside your heart….from a part that I can only assume turned cold long ago, but still has life lying dormant. I’m certain seeing “it” would’ve caused that instinctual compassion we all have for fellow human beings, to come roaring back to life, no matter how much you thought it was under your control.
That picture. Of the boy. He’s 3, in the water, lifeless. It was all over any type of media this week and it divided the world. I confess, I posted it and I made my “cover photo” on Facebook a version of it…a drawing of the image, only that sweet boy (Aylan is his name, we won’t forget) is asleep in a nursery. Many found it wrong and too much and “not helpful” to the cause. Others, like me thought surely because of its circulation, the world would no longer stay ambiguous…we would ALL know that silence and indifference could no longer be explained away with ignorance or trite answers of “but we need to protect ourselves too”. It is a picture that has captivated and polarised the world.
And do you know what Mr Abbott?? It’s happened. People are rallying and standing up and begging for their leaders to do more. They are pleading around the world to let the families, like Aylan’s and his big brother’s, come in to peace and refuge. “Let them come in, we will take them!” declared over 10,000 families in Iceland. Your own state Premieres and MP’s in Australia are speaking out and saying “Yes, we can and should take more!”
I look at Australia and I see how isolated we are out here in the middle of the ocean and what a great job you and your administration (and others before you) have done using that to your advantage, in your mission to keep people out. With people coming here by boat it is easy to block the media and act like no one is trying to get in and if they do, we will never see them anyway before they are dragged back out to sea or put in offshore detention. It has been fairly easy at times to keep things “out of sight, out of mind” for the Australian people.
Europe and Turkey and surrounding countries have not had that “luxury”. This mass exodus of pure desperation has been right in front of their faces. Governments can’t deny forever what their people are seeing up close. And so this week after months of thousands fleeing and crossing borders and Europe seemingly just sitting back and “waiting and seeing”, and there being an outcry from some but mostly apathy and at least claimed ignorance from many more, that picture happened.
A little boy and his big brother and his mummy and daddy boarded a rickety boat like thousands more before them and that little boy and his big brother and his mummy drowned. He washed up on that beach and suddenly his image was everywhere and now the world can’t look away.
I am not sure why it’s this picture and this little boy that has made the world weep and feel such deep anguish around the globe; there have been many more drowned children before him and even pictures of them. I don’t think it matters why…maybe it’s just finally time. Time for the world to have an awakening they have not had since Allied forces entered into the Nazi concentration camps at the end of WWII. We’ve heard whispers of boats and people drowning like the world heard “rumours” of cattle cars stuffed with “those people” who no one ever saw again. Then the pictures of “them” came out; emaciated, no life in their eyes, with furnaces in the background and suddenly the world was horrified….and without excuse. Fast forward about 70 years and now again because of a picture, we are as a nation and a world, without excuse.
The important thing for you to know Mr Abbott is that the world is awake now and that includes Australia. Too many of us saw that baby and looked at our own babies that night, safe in their beds and our hearts shattered into pieces. We thought of that mama and daddy trying to desperately hold onto to the two most important and precious things in their lives (THE reason they were on that boat, my God!) and the horror of watching them gasp for air and be scared (can you imagine their fear Mr Abbott?) as they saw them drown. The utter devastation of that father as he got to shore and realized he was all that was left of his beautiful family. So we all went to bed this week thinking about this. And no, I haven’t polled people, but as a human being and a mother and a wife, I know that I am not unique in my visceral reaction to such devastation in front of my eyes. I know that if I was stifling a sob all week, so were many, many more mamas and daddies and aunts and uncles and grandparents and anyone that can only imagine the enormous tragedy that happened in that water and on that beach.
I have watched news anchors tear up this week at the thought of what happened that night on that boat and so I know, somewhere inside Mr Abbott, your own soul must cry out. You have often claimed to be a man of faith and a firm believer in God. I am holding onto hope right now, that if you read this, that the God you claim to follow will be awakening your heart and that human life will become more important to you than the feigned sense of security you seem to believe is of utmost importance for us as a nation, while you chip away at our national sense of humanity and compassion.
We know too much now Mr Abbott and we do not want anymore Aylans. Tomorrow night on Monday, September 7th people are gathering in all the Australian capital cities to hold vigil and “Light the Dark” for little Aylan and everyone like him that is fighting for their lives right now. My gut tells me that there will be some of the biggest turnouts at these vigils, that Australia has not seen in a while and I will be praying it is so! I hope you are watching Prime Minister. I hope you are seeing that your citizens want to help those in desperate need and we are no longer waiting for you to do it. Reports are that PM Cameron in Britain, after much pressure was put on him, finally agreed to Great Britain taking in more refugees. Quite frankly, I don’t care if he or you or any other world leader agrees to letting these people into safety, all the while kicking and screaming, the important thing is that you do it. This is life or death Mr Abbott and I hope you are able to grasp that deep down and that you do not delay any longer in making real decisions that will save lives NOW.
In case you and others who hold to the same beliefs are thinking “but we don’t have room or anywhere to put them”, allow me to follow Iceland’s lead and say loud and clear that I will take them!! Into my home. Under my roof…. Into my heart. And with that, I trust that many, many more Australians who ache with me for this world of ours’ that is on fire, will also take these precious people into their own homes. Do you hear me Prime Minister…WE WILL TAKE THEM!!!
As someone who is not rich by the common 1st world standard, I know I have more than enough to offer a place of refuge for a family fleeing from harm.
As someone who already has 3 children, I know the love and security that little ones desperately need and will happily take them in to share rooms with mine…and I will hold their mama and daddy close as they weep for what they have seen their children endure.
As someone who knows that “true compassion is inconvenient”, I readily accept those challenges in order to save precious life in desperate need.
As someone who knows that getting families here could be a logistical nightmare and very expensive, I will organize whatever charity event(s) needed (with the help of friends I’m sure, who also want to assist these families!) to raise the money to charter a plane(s) to get these families into Australia.
As someone who knows these families will need support in many areas once they arrive, I commit to sticking by them and helping them do whatever needs to be done, to make Australia their new home.
Mr Prime Minister, I know and have great faith that I am not the only one that would be willing to commit to this arrangement with their families and offer up their own homes. We know this is not ideal or “the best case scenario”, but when people’s lives are being destroyed daily, we do not need “ideal” or “perfect”, we just need room in our hearts to see the refuge we can offer with the space we are lucky enough to have!
I hope you can look around and see that you have a population that want to help. We want to make it possible for our country to reach out and lead the way in compassion and mercy and justice. We want to be a place of refuge and we are willing to do the work alongside you, in order to make it happen. Isn’t that what living in a community is all about? Isn’t showing empathy and kindness, what we as a country strive to teach our children? How can we not act then, when the need is so great….so obvious?
I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I pray you do. Not only that, I pray that other Australians read this and write you with their own commitment to take in a refugee family. As a nation we can do this and as a Prime Minister you can make it happen. It is in your power Mr Abbott and my hope is that this week you have seen that all the power and security and economic stability and military might, does not matter at all if we fail in showing humanity to those who will surely die if we withhold it because it is simply not easy or convenient.
I will take them Prime Minster….WE will take them….please let us.
With Much Respect and Never Failing Hope,