Where is the love? the Black Eyed Peas ask in a new song that’s sweeping the Internet. Overseas, yeah, they trying to stop terrorism, they sing. Over here on the streets, the police shoot the people. Where’s the love?
When I first had the idea to write this post, I thought I would write about where the love is (and isn’t). It’s not in war zones, I thought to myself: there is no love when people are fleeing cities that are no longer safe, to come to countries where some people viciously oppose their presence. But I realized that sometimes in these situations, there is love. In the world’s darkest places, and in its darkest moments, we see tiny glimmers of hope—hope for the inherent goodness of humanity, and hope that love can conquer hate.
In January, in the midst of Trudeau’s efforts to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada, Maclean’s published an article titled “Saving Family No. 417.” The article details the horrors faced by a Syrian family, and the efforts of 14 Canadians to bring the family to safety. Reading the article, I was brought to tears by the sheer compassion displayed by this group of Canadians. At first, the Syrian family didn’t know that a group of strangers across the globe were working tirelessly to give them a new life. They were, though. And they weren’t alone.
Recently, I saw a photo on Twitter which detailed the attempts of train passengers to help a Syrian family who were struggling with the train system. According to the post, which was written by a woman who was on the train, people were phoning friends to help with Arabic translations, donating money for the family to purchase tickets, and carrying their luggage. Eventually, the train company caught wind of what was happening and intervened with further help for the family. In situations like this, there is love.
Unfortunately, there is not always love. In January, few days before that article from Maclean’s was published, I was writing on this blog about a hate crime committed against Syrian refugees in Canada. Moreover, in the latest edition of Maclean’s, an article details the “brutal and terrifying reality” that Yazidi people, and specifically women, face under the rule of the Islamic State. The article states that, two years after the Islamic State first attacked a village in Iraq, “450,000 Yazidis are displaced, dead, or being used as sex slaves.”
In that article, Payam Akhavan, who is an expert in analyzing genocide and is currently in Iraq, says that “The long-term solution is not military, beyond that needed to gain a ceasefire; it’s giving the Yazidis a measure of justice to restore their humanity. Then the object of pity becomes an agent of change.” To me, these words are incredibly important. When we have empathy and compassion for people in need of help, we let them know that they are not alone and that their stories are worth telling. Not only this, but our empathy can lead to us putting pressure on our elected officials to offer assistance in a meaningful way.
Without having empathy, it’s difficult to fight for action. Empathy looks different for everyone, but it can start by simply reading, or listening to, the stories of people who need help (check out the links above for a start on that). If you come across a story, local or global, that resonates with you in any way, do some research and find out how you can get involved; whether it’s donating time, money, efforts, raising awareness, volunteering, or helping in another way.
The Black Eyed Peas ask, Where is the love? I’m here to say that, if we are willing to search for it, the love is inside each and every one of us. I’m not going to say “act local and think global” because there are people all over the world who need our empathy—and, more importantly, they need our action. Despite all of the hatred in the world, there is love.