The term “refugee” churns varying emotions depending upon who is reacting to it. Many would be thrown into a swell of heartbreak; sympathizing for the displaced and their seemingly endless journeys’ to a find a home. While on the other hand, many may actually feel anger towards these people, as if they are infringing upon our homes and way of life. Either way we cut it, the global understanding of what it means to be a refugee appears to be swept under the rug. No one seems to care; or at least not a large enough percentage of the population to do anything about it.
A refugee, in common nomenclature typically refers to displaced humans, who are removed from a homeland through varying factors, such as political turmoil, war, or even natural disasters. However, “refugee” has aroused multiple connotations across the world, and will be approached differently to the respective viewpoint of a person. For many, refugees are a means of study, who can use the data and experiences concerning the phenomenon in order to draw conclusions and analyze them. Others see them as a call for activism, and are deeply moved by the misfortunes of the displaced and sympathize with them at every turn. Still, there are those who either ignore or hold animosity towards them. Across the globe, we can witness refugees being turned down from border to border; ending up in crowded camps with deplorable conditions. In regards specifically to the Calais Refugee Camp in southern France, “A lack of sanitation poses a real threat to public health, with many residents of the camp forced to defecate close to where they sleep and prepare food.” (Davies)
A key factor in the lives of refugees is their movement. The National Geographic article on Syrian refugees depicts the life of a refugee as one of constant movement, typically in the form of walking. Refugees will use various forms of transportation if need be, but typically are restrained to the shoe-lace express. Aside from the walking is quite a bit of waiting. The waiting is usually within the previously mentioned camps, though can be seen at border stops and various locations across a refugees travels.
Refugees are invisible in the end. They are tossed aside by governments in a position to aid them, and are seldom given thought by us, who are so comfortable in our living situations. Are these people so far below us that we should not even consider them during our daily lives? The answer is they are not below us at all, but one could easily infer that they are so considering how they are valued by the greater public.
Davies, Thom. “Geography, Migration, and Abandoment in the Clais Refugee Camp.” Political Geography. Print.
Salopek, Paul. “Syrian Refugees.” National Geographic 1 Mar. 2015. Print.
Feedback is cool!
(I don’t find rogue requests for feedback like this one, breadpatrol. It doesn’t show up in search requests for the two words feedback and please together. Mine will, so I’ll be able to find this later. —DSH)
Paragraph 1. Breadpatrol, I like the way your first paragraph begins, but not the way it ends. It’s good to observe that refugee conjures disparate emotions. Good that it inspires sympathy. Good that it elicits anger. But NOT GOOD to conclude that “understanding . . . [gets] . . . swept under the rug.” You’ve just finished elucidating two reactions, SO people react. They don’t ignore. They have opinions. They care. See what I mean? Your paragraph undoes itself, wastes its observations, makes itself pointless.
P2. Much as I admire the technical control you demonstrate here, your first two sentences are mostly repetitions of claims you’ve already made. How often will you tell us that refugee has several “meanings”? If you want to revisit this performance, you need shorthand. To some, they are Numbers. To others, they are Souls. To still others, they are Invaders. To others, though you don’t say so, they may be Labor. And to others, though again you don’t say so, they may be Brethren, or Countrymen, or Congregants.
The shift that occurs with your “deplorable conditions” sentence is jarring and not productive. You need to indicate that considering how many of us have positive reactions to the refugee population, it’s surprising and deplorable that they are herded like undesirables into inhumane conditions. Right? Help us feel the injustice by emphasizing that we would never treat Souls, Brothers, Countrymen, or Congregants so abysmally.
P3. Good idea. Wonderful idea, actually. Poor execution though. Don’t be afraid to get personal, abcdefg. You’re so close here. They are walking, then waiting, then walking, never welcome, never settled. Don’t conceptualize. Don’t get abstract. Your “shoe-leather” reference is close to what you need, but here it sounds disrespectful. Give us a scene. “Key factor” takes us away from the personal to the distant analytical. Even “constant movement” is abstract compared to “forever walking.” Show me a single parent with two or three kids, carrying what she can of their earthly belongings, trying to inspire, cajole, or carry her children for fifty or sixty miles a day.
The other “key factor” of refugees is their vulnerability. She’s paid all her money to “border patrols,” fought off strangers who took an interest in her daughters. Her feet are blistered; her son is feverish and his ankle is sprained . . . and still they walk. There are sources for these personal stories. If you truly want to define refugee, you need to face their reality.
Another “key factor” of refugees is their innocence. Even if we want to distract ourselves from their plight, we can’t deny that they did nothing to earn their peril. Their governments, or rogue warring factions, or nationless terrorist groups, have ejected them from their homes and propelled them into total insecurity.
P4. We ignore them at our peril, abcdefg. When we put them out of our minds, we kill a bit of ourselves. You feel that, I can tell. It may help to remind us how close we are to joining them.
Do you find these notes helpful?