The very sad reality is that Aylan was one among millions of desperate people forced to flee from war and persecution. The world is facing a global refugee crisis on a scale that we’ve not seen since WWII, but Austrailia, our lucky country of a fair go for all – is not doing enough. We can do better to help these people. We must do better.
That’s why tonight we light a candle to remember Aylan Kurdi and all the other lifves that have been lost in the desperate journey for safety.
Tonight we stand together in solidarity with people all around the world who are forced to ask for protection from countries like ours.
Together we shine a light on the darkness, in peaceful protest of our countries abandonment of the world’s most desperate people, who seek only safety and our protection.
We shine a light on the fact that no one makes the arduous journey out to sea in search for protection unless the perilous water is safer than the land they come from. For all of those parents who make this terrifying choice out of love for their children, for all those people who do this out of desperation and fear, for all of the people who have lost their lives and for all of the people in the world who are in boats on this ocean right now seeking salvation – we light the dark for them.
We send a message to the world that our government’s inaction does not represent us, and that here in regional Western Australia we say welcome.
We stand here to show the world that despite our governments choices our humanity is still intact. Our government does not represent us. We see what is happening and we want to do more.
Let these terrifying events in the world bring us closer together. Let it remind us to be compassionate and kind to one another. Let it remained us to welcome those who are most in need. Let it remind us – in a country where it seems no longer valued – to hold on tight to our humanity now, when the world needs it most.
If we haven’t got our humanity, what have we got?
Together now, if we can stand together as one in silence for one minute in peace and solidarity. Afterwards, if those of you who wish to float flowers into the ocean for those who take to the water in search of safety – at the end of the minute silence we will walk down into the ocean and do so together.”
It was late Sunday night when I decided that I needed to mobilise my community to engage in the #lightthedark candlelight vigils. It was somewhere in between worrying about whether or not I’d have enough time to pull it off with work and meetings all day the following day. I began cringing at having a toddler out at bedtime that I looked in the mirror and was struck at the single mindedness of my privilege. It was then that there was no other option than make it happen – we are more than our day-to-day – we can all do more than we are doing. We have a responsibility as human beings to stand up for and be the voice for those who are silenced. We have a responsibility to our communities to do what we can to draw everyone closer together. If we want to hold on to our humanity at this time we need to engage it and understand how our privilege can blind us.
There is nothing in the world more important than people.
We managed to mobilise more than 130 people to attend and I spoke the above words to a sombre and tearful gathering. Then together as a community we stood in respectful silence for those who deserve our compassion, our kindness and our humanity.
Together we stood in peaceful protest against all that is so desperately wrong in our world and against our government who seem to have lost any shred of humanity they had left.
Afterwards many of us stood in the ocean up to our knees, candles lighting our way. We stood feeling the cold force of the ocean pulling at our legs as we floated flowers out to sea for those who have been lost, and for those who are still fighting to find their way.
We hope our government will let these people in. They will always be welcome by us.
Only light lifts the darkness.
*All photographs in this post were taken by Kate Heaslip Photography*