This week Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted a photo of an ad that compared the “Syrian Refugee Problem” to a bowl of Skittles. The ad suggested that we can best understand the worst humanitarian crisis of our time by thinking about refugees not as embodied, suffering people but as poisonous rainbow-colored candy that could kill us. Let’s set aside for a minute the politics of this and the admitted complexity of immigration and national security.
In the midst of the often abstract debates and discourse surrounding refugees, we can lose sight of the real lives involved and also despair about what can be done to help. It's important that we keep ourselves informed about what is actually going on, and it's important that we support and celebrate the good, compassionate, humane work being done to ease the suffering.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee. I’ve never had to flee my homeland out of fear for my life because bombs or beheadings were a very real threat. I’ve never had to resettle in a foreign land and struggle to assimilate to an alien or hostile culture. I also don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one to an act of terrorism, blown up in a plane or riddled with bullets in a concert venue.