Be Honest

Little did I know when I did the Oxfam Trailwalker earlier this year and talked about refugees that they would become such “big news” before the year’s end. Little did I imagine I would be challenging myself to greater action than just crocheting a handful of blankets.

I did not know a poem would drip from my pen. But it has.


Outrage at exploitation
Who took that photo?
It shouldn’t be paraded
for all the world to see.

A nameless child
Red t-shirt
Blue shorts
Two shoes.

Face down
On the sand
Sea lapping
A foreign land.

A single death is a tragedy,
a million deaths is a statistic –
said Joseph Stalin.

Last week seventy-one suffocated
In a truck.
It was news
for a day.
71 is too close to a million
To be much more than a statistic.

But let us wake up.
The one.
He had a name.
He was three years old.
He had a brother.
Five years.
They laughed with a big white teddy bear.
They had a Mama.
And a father.

Only he remains.
Everything that matters lost.
No family.
No freedom.
Certainly no country, job, car, insurance, healthcare, food, house, home.

He lifts his hand to his face.
The morgue behind him.
Heart shattered with grief.

His babies.
His love.
Dreams destroyed.
Desperation personified.
A future unfathomable.

This one remains.
And how many million more?

We’ll do what we can.
Will we?
Will we really?
Or will we settle for what doesn’t hurt us?
Will we really sacrifice
for our brothers and sisters in humanity?

We are neighbours.
Are we Good Samaritans?
Or will we turn away, hurry on by,
Say they are too far away
And too different to us anyway?
Will we justify our complacency
Defending ourselves
We have problems in our own back yard
As if helping is an either/or proposition?

Will we take coins from our pocket
To pay for a refugee’s care?
Will we take time from our day
To help?
To do something?
To find out what we could do?

Will we give up anything
For those who have lost everything?
Or will we sigh
The problem’s too big
And do nothing?

Will we open our hearts?
Our homes?
Our lives?
For even one?

We have seen.
That photo has spoken.
We have no excuse.


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