March of 2011, in the small country of Syria, a civil war broke out. It started
when fourteen school boys were arrested and tortured for painting
anti-government graffiti on the walls in the city of Daraa. The citizens took
to the streets to object the arrest and torture of the boys by their
government. The people of Syria received an unexpected compensation for their
protests. The government angrily opened fire on the protestors killing four and
injuring many more.
The next day, they opened fire once again, this time on
mourners as they attended the funerals of the victims. Many of the Syrians were
appalled and believed that the only way things could get better was a complete
re-shifting of government. Many of the citizens began to demand an immediate
resignation of their current president, Bashar al-Assad. Of course, as most
dictators who refer to themselves as a president, Assad refused to step down.
Complete war broke out soon after as rebel fighters and Assad supporters
The answer is simple, you run.
It is four years after the initial conflict and the country of Syria is an all-out
war zone. What does a father do when he can no longer protect his family? What
does a mother do when she can no longer feed her babies? What does a brother do
when he watches as his younger siblings’ lives are ended by gunfire meant to
kill anyone it can touch?
It is embedded in
human nature to flee the very things that aim to hurt us. Fight or flight
instincts are ingrained in each and every one of us. When we can no longer
fight, we run. These mothers and fathers flee their country, leaving everything
they know, for the sake of saving their families. We are all inhabitants of
mother Earth and we once roamed wherever we felt. But the year is 2015 and
countries have borders and they can let you in if they want to, and sadly, they
can keep you out as well. Over 11 million Syrians are roaming the Middle East
and Europe with nowhere to call home.
Although the U.S. department of State has agreed to allow 10, 000 immigrants from Syria
(in fulfilment of the requirements of sections 207(d)(1) and (e) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act), I cannot even begin to imagine the trouble
that awaits them within these borders. I
have no idea of the terrors that these men and women, young and old, have been
through, but I do identify with them in one particular fashion.
many people know, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast over 10 years ago.
My refugee identify, due to Hurricane Katrina, has left a lasting impression on
me. The word 'refugee' has many negative connotations; a word rooted in our American tradition of exclusion. With this word comes shame, guilt, and of
course, sorrow. You’ve lost all you had, and now there are people telling you
that you’re mooching off of the government. Although there was nothing that
these millions of Syrians did wrong, there will always be guilt about what they
could have done differently. Lastly, shame completes the whole package. You now have nothing, and are forced to rely
solely on the kindness of others.
I remember being “one of them”, as we were
called. One day we had everything, and the next day we were standing in a line for
My family was displaced for two years after hurricane Katrina and
lived in Baton Rouge during this time. My dad could not live with us at this time
because his job back home still expected him to be there even though we had
nowhere to live. Once, at the new school that I was attending, we talked about
what we had eaten for dinner. This particular day I had eaten an MRE (Meal
Ready to Eat) that was supplied to hurricane victims by the government.
remember the teacher explaining to the rest of my 5th grade class
that this was basically free food, and how much debt we were causing because
the government had to supply food for all of us that were affected by the
storm. She told them about all the
“hand-outs” you could get just for living in a place that was “bound to be
destroyed.” Being looked down upon for something you have no control over is
amazing that a ten year old could be subject to this type of treatment within
their own borders. I admire the resilience of the Syrian people. You can still
find them smiling, laughing, and praying as they walk towards what they can
only hope to be a better life. I firmly believe that after these hard years,
peace awaits the entire Middle East. “If you don’t like someone’s story, you
write your own.” These words by Chinua Achebe resound throughout my whole
being. You are never too small to change
the world. If you don’t like the way the story line is going, don’t settle for
Chase Encalade is a Sophomore at Christian Brothers University and a staff writer at the Galleon.
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.