Friday, 11 September 2015

Close to home.

Closer than you think:

I arrived to the United States when I was three years old. I was young and new no real world that I can truly remember. My parents lived in Moldova for 16 years and 3 of those were with me. I was their first child (and only) and they were in their 40s when they had me. Their childhood and early adulthood was spent in Uzbekistan. Now we reside in the Midwest. Migration is nothing new to my family, but, also the trouble it brings.

I was raised with a very old school Russian mindset. The conservativeness was not of American taste and was never backed with religious argument, just tradition and utility. They gave me the tools to live in a world foreign to me, while they had to learn to live in a foreign world. It's been tricky along the road and "otherness" is is a potent feeling. 

I suspect we all had those moments when we realized we're a bit larger in ways we could imagine and completely non-existent in others. Culture is powerful but it is also a good comfort. I was raised with two. My parents didn't have a philosophical leaning. They both still linger in the news as my mother watches Russian pop concerts while assembling dozens of jigsaw puzzles. The world inside their minds would shock me.

The people migrating have each other and also the hands that reach out to them. It will not be enough to simply offer refugees asylum without fully acknowledging their humanity and deep needs such as a strong sense of community and a togetherness with those who gave them good shelter. The bond that can form between very different people is at hand if we all somehow play a part in showing nothing but good human, simple compassion then a lot of what is going on in this world: the worship of guns, the violence, greed, many of those suffering would push toward a history where "east and west" "us versus them" "Islam versus the west" can be laid to rest. 

It takes with the movement of history and grasping the moment. If we are aware, if we can see over what has happened and take a spiral staircase out of darkness (to use Karen Armstrong's autobiography title) then we can achieve great things.

It will take a deep long breath and a constant effort to stay clear minded. I dream big.

Note: I do not really trust politicians. I never really did, it's a Russian thing apparently, but the few who stand by an awareness of change and the possibility to mature out of huge mistakes would have my vote. All people matter.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent essay, Denis. Thanks for sharing your experience which, we can be sure many Syrians and Iraqi immigrants can relate to (and you to them, as well, of course). My episode of great displacement was one of moving from Oklahoma to California at the age of nine. You'd think that would have been easy, but I was treated as if I was stupid in school because of my Oklahoma accent. It was a trying time, but fully safe and with none of the multifarious problems of struggling to gain a foothold in a new culture with strange new language.