Many years ago as a child I sat on a curb and watched the water from a rain storm intermingling with oil residue from parked cars as the mixture flowed irreversibly past me down the storm drain.
These ‘oiliographs’ had me wondering where I came from and why I was in the United States and not fleeing from bombs in Europe, as other children my age were doing at the time.
It occurred to me, through a voice in my head, that I was sitting in the Bronx and right where I “belonged," while others were where they belonged too, for whatever the reason.
Well into adulthood and to the present time I continue to believe that we put ourselves right where we are not as a matter of “fate” but as a result of “choice”.
Sometimes it is we ourselves who have done the choosing: but more often the choices have been made by those who have gone before us. Our mothers and fathers, their parents and grandparents, all at some point in their lives deciding where they feel most at home. Where can they can be assured of enough food? Where might they even prosper? How might they can keep themselves moving forward in society, safe from wars, hurricanes, earthquakes, persecution, financial risk or ruin?
And so now, in our own time, we are seeing the dramatic consequences of war and persecution unfolding across the Atlantic. We are seeing how, when people are so anxious they simply have had "enough of here” and make the painful decision to leave their homeland to improve or ensure their existence. While others stay, they choose to migrate for life itself. Such a decision involves an enormous leap of faith and a willingness to accept the unknown.
Of course, we have seen this kind of migration before -- in much smaller numbers for decades across our own southern borders. But it’s impossible to ignore hundreds of thousands of migrants simultaneously from multiple starting points across the Middle East and Europe.
My own father and his father were immigrants, first from Haiti to Jamaica, then to New York where my father married an American woman, and my brother and I were born. Bold decisions that led me to “belong” in America while others would face a tougher world order abroad.
Enough! Enough of Here! I’m going someplace else!
Haven’t we all said that at some point about something? Haven’t we all had to change our mind about the present and try to imagine a different future? Don’t we all know how hard that is? Can't we find a path to compassion for those around us who have made the difficult choice to be more like us?