Alongside eco posts, I occasionally reflect on my privilege on here too. And I wanted to do so again.
On Thursday, as it was half-term, I took the girls to the beach. (We were staying near my parents and I grew up by the sea.)
The weather was glorious, light sun and a gentle breeze, we got there early and started building a sand castle (sorry, a castle complex, according to my 11YO). Then we went to paddle in the sea.
One of the girls said ‘mum - look at that’. I turned and looked. (Not my photo but another from the news from the same beach.) And though my brain queried what it was, my gut knew - a dingy of refugees, making its way to the shore, 100m or so along from us. It pulled in and then we saw people (not in beachwear, but dark clothing - another confirming point) climb out and run up the beach.
My stomach churned. I cried and ranted at the girls about the injustices of the world, and how privileged our lives are, and how it’s just an accident of birth that we were born into these bodies in this country at this time, and happened to be enjoying playing on the beach, while people were fleeing from war and risking their lives to try to find safety. We talked about how some people would not want to help these people and the hardships and discrimination they were likely to face, even now they were safely ashore.
It all felt so jarring against our lovely morning. Our life, our privilege felt ‘too much, too rich’ - for me, it was like something sweet had just lost all its taste.
But…. then and there, with my girls, in our swimwear, on our own, in Covid, practically and being honest emotionally, I wasn’t ready to help them directly (the sea was calm, so there was no immediate danger to life). All I could do was watch and try to instil compassion and kindness in the girls.
And it was time to switch back to the girls. I’d promised them we could go to the fair behind the beach. So we packed up our stuff, dropped it off at the car, and went. While they were on the rides, I did a quick internet search and yes, it confirmed they were refugees. It also confirmed what I also knew: the hate filled, send them back, there’s not enough to go round comments had already started coming in…. And I know the former army barracks where they were likely to be housed - really horrendous conditions.
Later that day, I remembered @chooselove, and have since donated to help buy supplies for those refugee families.
I don’t have an answer.
We can add donations to refugee charities to our regular charity donation list; and we can buy from companies who have ethical supply chains; and we can continue every day to teach our children to choose love instead of hate. Is that all we can do? It doesn’t feel enough…
But I will acknowledge my own privilege every day, be grateful for it, and try to use it to help others.
With love from my family to yours,