Season of Hope
The Syrian refugee children who have settled in Headwaters give us reason to be optimistic for 2017 and beyond.
As public discourse in America foundered in the gutter these past many weeks, it was a relief to be pulling together an issue that celebrates the very best of our community. As the dialogue on the evening news coarsened, it was an antidote by day to come back not only to the stories of our “local heroes” – the remarkable people who give so selflessly to make these hills a better place to live – but also to the courageous story of the Syrian refugees and the local folks who reached out to strangers to welcome them as neighbours.
The week we were finalizing this issue began with the American election and ended on Remembrance Day. It was a week marked by rage, confusion, sorrow and grief.
Has there ever been a post-election morning when one of the most urgent questions was how do we explain this to our children? How do we explain to our children that our cherished democracy rewarded the highest prize and power to a man who so loudly demonstrated the very antithesis of the compassion, tolerance, grace and civility we seek to instil in them? How do we take them within the week to services of remembrance and ask them to look into aging faces and see the moral conviction of young men who fought at such cost against the fascists and demagogues who rallied human against human and threatened to undo us?
There is, of course, no pat or easy explanation. But there is another vision to hold fast to when human beings are at their messiest. We see it in the innocent eyes of young Laith Al Hariri above, and we see it in the clear, steady gaze of his sister Duha – two Syrian children who survived the bomb that killed their brother and who, with several other refugee families, have now settled among us.
It is not just the duty of their sponsors, but of all of us to ensure the children and their families have found a safe haven. It is our duty, not only for their sake, but as an affirmation of our own humanity at a time when the forces of bigotry and xenophobia have been unleashed in civil America and threaten to rouse from their light slumber in our own country. It is the faces of these children, of our children, that stand against the political tides that divide us.
The coming holiday marks the season of hope, redemption and love. It is no coincidence it falls during the darkest days of winter.