Today a dear friend of mine passed away.
I wrote about her on Friday. She was young and vibrant and had the most beautiful heart for other people that I’ve ever experienced.
She leaves behind her two young daughters, a husband, a mother and a father (who also has Alzheimers), an extended family and a wide network of friends. All who met Rebecca were touched by her spirit and her joy.
We knew she was dying. We knew that her battle with the cancers that attacked her colon, liver and abdomen was drawing to a close. As soon as the news that Bec had passed away was delivered, the Facebook pages of her mother and sister were flooded with messages of love, support, sympathy, and grief.
It’s so hard for us to let go of someone we love. Nobody wants a member of their family or a friend to die. It’s so hard to grieve and to let go. It hurts. We cry. We hold each other, we promise ourselves that we will stop taking our loved ones for granted. We take comfort in the belief that our loved one is in a better place, where there is no more sorrow or pain.
How blessed we are that the death of a friend or relative can still come as a shock. How blessed we are that we often know it’s coming, and have a chance to say goodbye. How blessed we are if we live in a nation where the death of a child or a teen due to unforeseen circumstances is still unusual.
People from war-torn nations live with this on a daily basis. They don’t know when their time will come. It may come in the form of a bombing, a military raid, arrest and subsequent imprisonment or disappearance, or genocide.
It’s no wonder some of them make the decision to flee the danger. Sometimes, an entire family or village will pool their very limited resources to spirit one young member of their family away in the hopes of them finding safety and building a life in a different place – a place where there is peace, and hope, and a future.
These are the people who get on the boats that belong to the people smugglers who bring them to Australia. They take the risks that they do because whatever danger lies ahead, it’s nowhere near as bad as the danger they leave behind.
All they want is a chance at a new life… to live somewhere where life is valued, where people are protected, and where the army and police are not the enemy.
I cannot imagine how a mother feels when her child flees a war zone and starts on a journey into the unknown. She, too, will most likely comfort herself with thoughts of them going to a place where there is no sorrow, no war, no oppression, and where one really can enjoy peace. Friends, too, would be sorry to see them go but hopeful that their new life will be much better than the one they leave behind.
Who do our political leaders think they are to say, “No, you can’t come in! We want to keep our country to ourselves!”? What on earth must the rest of the world think of the Australian Government’s latest decision – to rule out the possibility of any asylum seeker who tries to get to Australia ever being allowed to live here?
I could probably have a pretty good guess at what the asylum seekers think.
That’s what I think too.
Please don’t think that I’m saying that my friend Rebecca’s life means less than one of these asylum seekers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
However, each of those asylum seekers is someone’s brother or father, mother or daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, uncle… and their lives are just as valuable as those of the people who already live in this very wealthy, productive and vast land. Knowing Rebecca as I do, I can confidently say that she would absolutely agree.
There has to be a better way – a more humane and compassionate way – to solve the problem of people smugglers endangering their lives.
I don’t know what that way forward it. But I know this – it must not involve denying the opportunities our nation offers for anyone who wants to live here and become an Australian.