The Tragedy of the Migrant Boat Sinking

I can almost picture what it must have been like.

People with nowhere to turn and no one to help them, following the smarmy hands of traffickers onto a ship and hearing the click of the lock in the door, imprisoning them inside the hold of the boat that would eventually sink to the bottom of the sea.

Thoughts of it can’t be any worse than life already is or other imaginings of hope for eventual release and freedom in a new land, life to start over, once they hit dry land. Except that time never came for the hundreds of hopeful people on the boat that sank in the Mediterranean this week. (Story here.)

I often realize how lucky I have it, but even moreso when I hear about a tragedy like this one. Just the other day I was saying to my children how incredibly fortunate we are to be born in America, to have the freedom to practice our religion, to complain about our government, to send our children (including daughters) to school, to wear the clothing of our choosing and speak our voices loud into the public discourse.

Here, anything is possible for someone born at a certain economic level of abundance. And especially when we are told that we can do or be anything.

But around the world, so many more people are nowhere near as fortunate. And the worst part of it is that those of us who are, often take this good fortune entirely for granted.

This morning, I had coffee with an old friend and editor who spent the month of February in Ecuador with family. He worked remotely high up in the mountaintops on the cusp of the Amazon, hiking by day, and working when he could sneak the time. He says he got more work done there than he does on a typical day here, and was so energized by his surroundings.

And, the quality of life.

There, he says, grocery purchases are a tax write-off. From there, the view of life in America is…stunningly wasteful. “People there must think Americans are crazy, with all that we consume and purchase,” he said.

True enough. We have no perspective from where we sit.

Thankfully, I don’t know the fear of a tyrannical government or the seemingly insatiable desire to escape to safer ground, where I can think and speak and roam freely.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like in the hold of that boat. Locked inside, pressed between hundreds of other hopeful, anxious souls, the scent of bodies overwhelming the space and the desire for a glimpse of the abundant sky and bright sun but a dream.

And what was it like as the boat submerged, never to rise again? Was there panic? A complete disconnect with what was happening with what they hoped might happen? Was there fervent prayer? Did mothers grip their children tightly and cry into their silky-soft hair?

I am so thankful I don’t have to experience such utterly horrific conditions.

My soul weeps for the fact that anyone on this planet has to endure anything less than possibility. Until we achieve true equality for all and eradicate this seemingly endless dichotomy of those with power vs. those without, we have no real freedom.

It is not enough to work for our own selfish goals. Each life is precious, and our journey should be to see every life as if our own, to advocate for door-openings and the elimination of tyranny.

Only then, can we rest at night and know we have done enough good.

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