Refugees Welcome - A Story About Fear and Love
- 18 Posts
- Age 20
There are so many thoughts in my head right now and so many things I want to say. I know they’ll never fit into one single text.
A couple of weeks ago, Europe was shattered by a couple of terrorist attacks, especially in France and in Germany. I’m from Germany and let me say, we were all immensely scared. No place – not even a little church in the countryside – seemed safe anymore. What made many of us be frightened even more was the fact that almost all terroristic acts had been executed by refugees.
Germany had taken in a million refugees by then and it seemed that things got out of control.
One night, when there were two attacks on the same day, I was really scared and so I wrote a text that I submitted it to Voices of Youth. It was never published, and fortunately it never will be. Some days after I’ve submitted said text, Mischa, one of the Voices of Youth coordinators, wrote me an e-mail and told me that he was concerned about what I had written. I had used swearwords in it, didn’t explain very well what I meant and somehow seemed to stand in for a position that didn’t quite fit in with the principles that VOY stands for.
I think my text must have sounded extreme. Please believe me, I’m the last person to develop right-wing thoughts! I had said things that I regret deeply. I came to know fear and how it can create a hostile mindset. Fear clouded my perception of how things actually were, and it made me jump to false – and dangerous – conclusions.
Many people here in Germany wanted to stop taking in more refugees. They wanted to feel secure again. I wanted that, too.
I have volunteered in a refugee camp for some time now. To get into the old military base I have to pass security, show my worker badge and cross brick walls and barbed wire fences. From the outside it seems almost a little dangerous, and you’re not sure what is going on behind those walls.
Well, let me say this: It is very peaceful. Different cultures, different religions and different values live there together – and nothing bad has ever happened so far. Behind every face there is a story, an excess of nightmares and a will to live. I absolutely love going to work. Those children and young adults teach me valuable lessons: How to communicate without words, how to be friends no matter your background or your belief, how to laugh loudly, how to be enthusiastic – and how to love.
Every morning, the small children run to you and hug you, and you play games with them without knowing the rules. The elder ones teach you how to play volleyball and you teach them German words. It is like a huge family, and probably the most colorful I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t know a reason why I should not like them, why I should perceive them as a disturbance, let alone a threat.
To be honest: I haven’t experienced so much peace and compassion in a long time. If only our society would see behind the dark hair and the harsh sounding language – we could learn a lot. As my colleague put it when I commented on the walls and fences: “You know, it’s not like we try to protect the outside world from the refugees. We much rather try protecting the refugees from the outside world.” She is right, I think. The society outside the walls is a lot more hostile than the society within them.
Terrorism is a real threat in this world. But we cannot meet extremism with extremism. We cannot judge an entire crowd because of one human being. Just from reading one piece and listening to some loud politicians we shouldn’t jump to a conclusion that can have a bigger extent than we believe. It can create unnecessary conflict.
When I wrote that said text, I thought that fear would be my motor to speak up and to change something. But instead of letting fear be my motor, love should be. I know this now. Recently, at a giant firework that took place in Cologne there was an official minute of silence in commemoration for the victims of the recent attacks. And I swear you couldn’t hear a sound in the entire city.
It was a truly powerful action and it was led by love, not by fear.
Dear Mischa and Kate, thank you for giving me another chance to rewrite my text.
And dear refugees, you are still very, very welcome.