A distant friend asked one of his usual — deceptively simple — questions. I like his questions, as they make me re-evaluate things that I already checked off as obvious. In his view, nothing concerning me is apparently obvious (and yes, it goes the other way as well )
Why do I struggle to help refugees?
AFAIR I never felt a need to explain or justify my decision in this respect. The only person who had a say on it, N., had exactly the same view on the issue, so we did not discuss it a lot.
So, perhaps it is a good opportunity to summarize the reasons, at least these I am aware of.
Because I can.
At least in potential sense: I am equipped with skills, knowledge and
personal dynamics that make the whole process relatively easy. And the tradition I was born in raised in says that skills, talents and abilities are obligations and duties, rather than privileges.
Because they need it. Badly.
Within my reach, they are the group which is in the most dire and immediate need. It means to me that any given amount of energy I spend helping them provides biggest effect possible.
Because I pay forward, in practical and fundamental sense.
Both in my young age 1980-90s in Poland and now, since I went broke, many — sometimes completely unknown — people helped me (us) out. With money, food, shelter, closing, emotional and other support.
Some were doing it grumbling, some not. Some of them, including one memorable case of a man giving us the whole technical support and a lot of equipment before we left Poland in 2014, were theoretically our adversaries — in political, religious or some other sense. They still are — and that makes their help even more noble.
So, not only in theory I made my way of life based on contributing to others in need. It is my personal, unilateral obligation to every one who helped me in my life (you included) that I keep helping others, thus passing the good I received to others, so they can pass it further, when they are ready.
And, as I keep receiving — even if small, but unconditional — help from various people, my obligation stands and possibly will stand till I die. And I am quite happy with it.
Because it helps me improve myself.
Going out of my comfort zone, however small is the distance, is always good. It brings me new insights, tests my limits and makes me stronger, more versatile personality. This is not a theory, this is my practical experience for last 5 years at least. So I keep going out.
Because it fits the bigger picture.
I do not think this is a “crisis”. I think it is a phase change. And I think we will have more refugees from outside and we will soon start having our “in-Europe” refugees. So it is better to get involved early, to learn the ropes and to develop solutions.
On the other hand one of my goals is to meet (possibly in person) people who are leaving their comfort zones and manage outside of them. Who are able (willingly of forced) to change the way they live and to contribute to others. This is broadly the population, where I am looking for my partners and peers, possible future embers of a community I hope to live in.
To my best knowledge, there is no better place in Europe now, if you want to find this kind of people, than in and around refugee camps.
And yes, finally, the Golden Rule (canonical version).
This is how it works in my case.