This I Believe: Humanity in Hopelessness

“If we say we care, we must take action.” – Malala Yousafzai

I believe in the importance of humanity during times of hopelessness. To simply state our concern in these times, and not take action against these horrible acts of cruelty, places us on a rung of the ladder of humanity only slightly above the perpetrators. If our sympathy towards other humans extended only to words and thoughts, we would have died out as a race thousands of years ago.

Recently, refugees from the war-torn Syria have emigrated in numbers up to an estimated 4 million from their destructive home state and towards a ‘better life’ in Europe. Countries such as Hungary, however, are denying these struggling masses the proper tools and methods to achieve this ‘better life.’ They are refusing to provide modes of transportation such as bus or train so these refugees may pass through Hungary and make their way to other European countries. And when they are given trains, in a certain case, refugees expecting to reach the Austrian border were stopped in the city of Bicske instead. From there, they were placed in cramped jail cells, given little food and water daily, and suffered from illnesses due to a lack of heating and proper medical attention.

For this to be happening in 2015 is inhumane and completely unacceptable. In hopes of escaping bombs and acts of terrorism, these innocent refugees have been lied to and denied access to basic human rights – one would think they would receive better treatment due to their horrible circumstances, but this hasn’t been true in many cases unfortunately.

In Germany, however, on the 5th of September, more than 10,000 refugees were welcomed in to the country through a massive celebratory gathering in a stadium. The packed arena was full of cheering German natives, and a process was began that worked to give every single person there a reliable roof over their heads. In total, Germany has accepted more than 450,000 refugees from both Syria and other surrounding countries struggling with war and violence. They expect to accept 800,000 by the end of the year. What would lead to such different responses from these countries? Of course, Germany is a more financially stable and successful country, but they are the ones accepting immigrants and refugees to live there. Hungary is denying them the right to pass through their country safely.

These refugees have committed no crime that justifies their suffering both in their country and outside of it. The leaders of these powerful sovereign states are failing to rise to this ethical challenge, and it speaks volumes to the objectives and priorities these countries value.

Money is more important than morals, infrastructure considered and analyzed more than inhumanity, reputation valued higher than the rights of refugees.

We need to take action, and we must take action now. The children that are dying from these crises are no different than children we see walking down the street to school in the morning, the teenagers forcing to flee are the same age as the people I sit with in a classroom daily. The only difference between the elderly people of the refugees and those that we can see regularly without problems is the language they tell their life stories in. A young boy in Syria will die of a gunshot wound to the head, fleeing through an obliterated landscape, not knowing if his family is still alive, while a man in Canada will die of old age in a comfortable bed surrounded by ones he loves.

Hopelessness features heavily in our society today, a fact that cannot be changed by sitting around and whining about how we must change. Action must be taken, money must be spent, time must be dedicated to this cause. Lives must be saved. Because if we are not capable of being humane to one another in times of such suffering and loss and hopelessness, what precisely are we capable of?

"posters from syria"

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4 thoughts on “This I Believe: Humanity in Hopelessness

  1. Dear Claire,

    This is a superb piece of writing. It really, truly is. Even before I started reading, I was hooked by your title, which was enthralling. And the thesis itself lived up to the excitement I had going into this. The fire and determination of your words hit me like a brick wall and carried consistently throughout the text. Never once did I feel your voice waver. Furthermore, your choice of quote and visual really complimented your thesis. The choice to go with an abstract piece of art is especially effective I would offer as it reinforces the rhetorical question you offer your audience.

    The only change I would offer is to maybe write a little more about your philosophy in and of itself. You imply it through your speaking of Syrian refugees but I would have loved to see you connect this directly back to your thesis if possible.

    Nonetheless I love this piece. You should definitely be proud of it.

  2. Dear Claire:

    The alliteration in your title is actually one of my favourite elements of this piece, as weird as that sounds. To me, it speaks to human apathy, as well as the relationship between inhumanity and indifference. That is to say, the way in which the letter H is repeated in your title, there is a sense of what goes around comes around. By being indifferent to worldwide suffering, and thereby exiling it from human awareness, we deny their humanity; we deny their rights as human. Yet by denying their humanity, we simultaneously betray our own.
    To me, your piece speaks to the fact that perhaps being ignorant of global issues is one of the most inhuman things people can ever do. Indifference is nothing; it’s not an end, nor is it a beginning; it is abstract. There is no substance to it. This further emphasizes the stylistic rhetorical question that you left dangling at the end: “Because if we are not capable of being humane to one another in times of such suffering and loss and hopelessness, what precisely are we capable of?”
    Is it necessary for us to turn a blind eye when the global village around us experiences distressing upheavals?
    Additionally, your juxtaposition of hopelessness and action furthers your argument of how people living in the same plant can have such disparate worlds & thoughts. Yet in doing so, it also ironically unifies your entire piece together.
    I just noticed this now, but I had actually initially read your title as “Hopelessness in Humanity”, but it’s actually “Humanity in Hopelessness”. Just by switching two words around, the entire meaning changes. Is this perhaps a mirror image of how a simple action instigated by one person could end the suffering of another? Is this part of what we, as readers, are “capable of”?
    In terms of improvement, I agree with Megan’s comment. While your philosophy is intrinsically woven throughout your piece through your tone and diction, elaboration on your perspective will allow you to hit where the heart is and beyond a simple home run. Even so, I found your piece astounding.

    Thank you for giving me the chance to know a little bit more about you,



  3. Hello,

    My name is Claudia and I’m Mr. Avelar’s student at the International School of Panama. Your essay, without a doubt, opened up a new perspective to me on society. After reading your essay, I began to realize just how apathetic society can act towards world crises. I don’t think I ever really understood the consequences that could sprout from human indifference. I realized, after reading your essay, that these consequences affect people more than we realize. One of the things you said that really has an impact on my way of thinking was “Money is more important than morals, infrastructure considered and analyzed more than inhumanity, reputation valued higher than the rights of refugees.” This quote reflects on how concerned society is on making itself better, rather than being attentive to others. I’ve come to a conclusion, from your essay, that people can’t truly understand another’s level of pain unless they’re going through something similar. And they won’t help unless it’ll affect them, negatively. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your piece and appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing!

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