I’m on my way to London, currently passing over the Grand Canyon – drinking a glass of red wine, maybe it’s a Cabernet?
And I’m thinking about what I’m about to encounter. After I get to London, explore a bit. After I take the train to Tonbridge and drive under the water to Calais. I’m going to see something that is different from anything I have seen before, and what I am about to see will shock me.
I’m going to a refugee camp.
To give you a bit of context, I was born and raised in Malibu, California. My experience with poverty consists of a life-changing – albeit weeklong – trip to India.
While the trip was amazing, I could never reconcile the fact that I was a visitor. A few days in, I was in Varanasi and I witnessed a 4-year-old, too poor to even own a pair of pants, begging. I almost felt like I was outside of my body while I was watching this little boy ask for money – Why was I allowed to go back to a hotel at the end of the night?
But I was a visitor, I had been dealt a certain hand by life, and it was my job to take advantage of what I had been given. I think that’s a major point of disconnect amongst people all over the world. Some are grateful for the opportunities they have in life and some aren’t, but regardless all of us feel like we are different from everyone else.
Being different becomes a problem when it numbs us to the struggle of others. “That’s awful, but it could never happen to us.” It’s happening so far from this idea we’ve constructed about who we are and what’s important that it’s not our problem.
I want to shrink that disconnect. I want to share a message with the world – we would be just like them if we had been put in the position they are. These refugees are doing the best they know how with what they have been given and we should admire them. They are heroes.
I believe that the best way to share that message is to find the people with the unbreakable spirit – the young man who plays violin to entertain his neighbors, the mother who tells her children stories about what life will be like when they have a home, when they are safe, every night before they go to bed, even if she doesn’t believe it herself. I want to find the people that have a meaning for their life and I want to learn why. As Victor Frankl says “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”