Involuntary Wandering

Homeless. Most often starving. Raising children in squalid conditions. These are our global family’s refugees.

From Refugees International: Stateless People “More than 11 million people around the world are stateless….The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’, but stateless individuals generally do not benefit from the protection and assistance of governments, the United Nations, or aid agencies.”

By no means were refugees necessarily poor or uneducated before their forced migration.

From OneWorld.Net: Searching for Identity in an Ethiopian Refugee Camp “While thankful to be safely outside of Eritrea, Emmanuel explains that in addition to the general problems of refugee camp life such as insufficient food rations and health concerns like malaria, it is not easy to get out of the camp to carry out normal activities such as using the internet. First, a person must obtain a day pass, only 25 of which are issued every day. A bus to Shirraro, the nearest town, needs to be arranged and one must be able to cover the cost of bus fare and internet fees, which start at 15 Birr (US$ 1.56). He would like to continue his studies. ‘I have read the same physics textbook several times, but I would really like to study meteorology.’ ”

I searched Google images for quite awhile to find that picture of the mother and child. It was one of the absolutely saddest searches I’ve ever made…

I happen to be a United States citizen with a small veteran’s pension: not rich or particularly comfortable. I’ve also served time living on the streets, mostly due to a severe lack of self esteem. Yet, none of the suffering I’ve gone through comes anywhere near these peoples’ plight !

Bringing this post to an amazing end is a bit of the story of a remarkable refugee, Bahá’u’lláh. He lived in 19th Century Persia and was banished to Iraq, Turkey, and what is now Israel. This excerpt was written by His son:

“He upraised this standard of the oneness of humanity in prison. When subjected to banishment by two kings, while a refugee from enemies of all nations and during the days of His long imprisonment He wrote to the kings and rulers of the world in words of wonderful eloquence, arraigning them severely and summoning them to the divine standard of unity and justice. He exhorted them to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration—that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes. He wrote to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, Napoleon III of France and others, inviting them to world unity and peace. Through a heavenly power He was enabled to promulgate these ideals in the Orient. Kings could not withstand Him. They endeavored to extinguish His light but served only to increase its intensity and illumination. While in prison He stood against the Shah of Persia and Sultan of Turkey and promulgated His teachings until He firmly established the banner of truth and the oneness of humankind. I was a prisoner with Him for forty years until the Young Turks of the Committee of Union and Progress overthrew the despotism of Abdu’l-Hamid, dethroned him and proclaimed liberty. This committee set me free from tyranny and oppression; otherwise, I should have been in prison until the days of my life were ended.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 203

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One-Man Peacekeeping Force

The Play

Adapted from A True Story

The Actor: Sait Sanli, a 64-year old former butcher and cattle-raiser in southeastern Turkey.

The Scene: 10 years of blood feuds (or, vendettas).

The Action: Sanli personally facilitates the end of 446 potentially bloody disputes. 67 families are on his waiting list…

And the Actor says: “The cost of the suffering that these feuds cause cannot be estimated. One person may be killed, but the lives of 100 people are affected. Based on the tradition here, when one person commits a crime, every one of their relatives is responsible,” says Sanli, who has a grey mustache and deep set brown eyes. “We are really suffering here from a gap between the official law and traditional law. What I’m trying to do is fill in that gap, to prevent things from escalating. I’m a messenger.”

Enter Mazhar Bagli (a sociologist at Diyarbakir’s Dicle University): “It’s not easy to do what [Sanli’s] trying to do. He’s going against something very ancient.”

An aside from the Narrator: “Ten years ago, he decided to let his eight children run the business and dedicate himself full-time to peacemaking.”

The Actor: “I am trying to show people the importance of forgiveness, how important it is in our holy book, and to show them how much they have been sacrificing by seeking revenge….
The main thing is making people think about how they are acting, about what kind of example they are setting. I try to appeal to that sense in people. I’m trying to show people that there’s a different way to do things, that there’s a different way to live….”

The Author: He gets little sleep (maybe 2 hours a night), never stops thinking about others, and says, when he does fall asleep, he feels at peace . . .

Written in response to Postcards from the Funny Farm