Places | Migrations

These Dark Skies: Seeking Refuge on Europe’s Shores

This situation can be changed, but only if our compassion is stronger than our fear.

This essay originally appeared in print in the Winter 2017 issue of The Southern Review.



On Being




Eh, what could you do?



Though we are both human beings, I am a more important kind of human being than you are. And while this situation is real—these troubles, and this thing that your life has become—I am going back to my own life now, because I am not ultimately the one responsible for your life or for all the colossally massive factors weighing on it, pinning it to the ground

I am not responsible, though I benefit from those factors just as surely as you are pinned beneath them. And I’m not sure who is responsible. I don’t really believe it’s you, for you did the only logical thing possible, given your circumstances, given the weft of the world you were facing, the violence, the privation. But I don’t know how to make this situation better.

How can I help with the immediate needs of the people here?Why are so many people stuck here in this camp?Who do we offer asylum to, and who do we turn away?What are the underlying causes of so many people needing asylum?How do we make this world full of meanness, indifference, and vast inequality, any more just? Any kinder, any more human?