UN Op-Ed

5/2/2017
Escaping a Shark's Mouth- by Maria Matar, Lebanese Canadian University (LCU)
I wish I could have taken you with me; that day when I sipped drops from the United Nations' fountain of compassion. No, this is not one of those poetic articles that merely drag your emotions out. It is simply a display of the truth; the truth that you already know. However, your knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. You run into them every day, on the streets, in grocery shops, at school or college, and at work. Nevertheless, what you forget is what Warsan Shire described saying: "No one escapes home unless home is a shark's mouth", and Syrian refugees did.

Have you ever heard about the "Life Changing Events" club? I have recently become a member, so are the Syrian refugees. The only difference between us is this: an event changed my perspective while another changed their lives. My perspective-changing event occurred when my friend and I were invited, being LCU students, along with students from many other universities, to attend a mini conference. It discussed the UN's new campaign entitled "Together" that is concerned with helping the Syrian refugees. "Can I ask you for a favor? May you please change seats while carrying your stuff?"

Mrs. Jessy Chahine -presenting the demonstration- demanded .We did." Please do that again, but this time leave your belongings behind", she asked again and so we did. It was when I saw a stranger beside me, when I needed my phone and pen and when I urged my friend to sit back next to me ,that I understood what Syrian refugees feel , on a much higher scale ,moving from "home" to another country. Pause you who read this, and imagine: waking up to the sound of a bomb rather than an alarm, watching your beloved ones drowning in blood or sliced into pieces, and losing all of your belongings especially your rights. Your next stop? Using a traveling passport as a passport of life then being dumped into camps fit for rats.

It is our humanitarian obligation to practice tolerance towards people, not the tolerance of evil. They are homeless, in need, sad, fearful, and lost; sometime in life we will have been all of these. So all we are asked for is to give them the right we claim for ourselves. We can do that through many ways such as: donating to charities that help Syrian refugees, starting a fundraising page or even through small acts such as returning a smile and ultimately treating them as human beings that are equal to us. It is true what Tariq Ramadan said:"Your enemy is not the refugee. Your enemy is the one who made him a refugee". However any person experiencing fear, intolerance and hatred could potentially become a terrorist .So let's cultivate kindness to harvest peace.

Before coming back home that day, I went to my dad's shop. One of his Syrian customers was there. And since I was very excited about the conference, he was my human diary for the day. I then asked him to write for me a message that he might want to send to the Lebanese on behalf of the Syrian Refugees. The following day, my dad came back home and handed me the paper his Syrian customer had left for me. I unfolded the paper and to my surprise it was a blank page centered by two words: "Thank you".

Maria MATAR
TRA P2

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