It’s easy to poke fun at celebrities; sometimes they make it almost effortless. It’s much more difficult to find famous people to truly look up to, to respect…to be impressed by not because of their particular causes or donations, but through hearing them speak about what should be basic human tenets. Finding true compassion for each other seems less and less common and in the internet age, it’s too convenient to become more withdrawn from each other. We’re connected, but as a whole, it feels like we’ve drifted apart. It’s easy to look at some world issues and feel a million miles away from them; the refugee crisis is way over there, not touching me personally, so what do I care? And for wealthy, insulated celebrities, what’s to push them right into the middle of it all? For someone like Angelina Jolie, it can only be her inherent empathetic nature that keeps her in the fray, and for that I give her the utmost respect.
Whatever your politics or personal beliefs, I can’t imagine listening to Jolie’s speak about the ongoing refugee crisis and our international response and not sharing her urgency for us — humanity — to pull together. I can’t fathom anyone listening to her words and not being able to understand the simplicity of what lies underneath the complexities. We are all human beings, we must find a way to work together to help resolve — or at least, to work at resolving — how we can care for refugees; people…mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers… Abandoning each other is not an option. But, I can’t speak to the problem as eloquently as Jolie does here, and whenever you can fit this into your day, I highly recommend a listen.
The worst possible mistake we could make is to step back from the world…I believe this is again, that once in a generation moment, when nations have to pull together. How we respond will determine whether we create a more stable world, or face decades of far greater instability.
The debate about refugees in western nations has been polarized, with on one hand some people calling for open borders and on the other hand, for the complete exclusion of all refugees — or worse, for certain groups of refugees. But policies should not be driven by emotion, by what might be termed as naive humanitarianism, placing the perceived needs of refugees above all other considerations, or by irrational fear — and unacceptable prejudice. Instead, we need to find a rational center, rebuilding public confidence, and insuring democratic consent for the longterm approach that will be needed…
Every country should do its fair share, and no country can abdicate its responsibility.”
On the difference between refugees (who have to move to save their lives and preserve their freedoms) and economic migrants (those seeking to improve their lives or livelihood):
…all human beings deserve human rights, but all people seeking asylum do not have equal grounds for asylum. Everyone must respect the laws and asylum procedures.
I would add that we would fail the basic test of humanity if we discriminate between refugees on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity.
Nobody wants to be a refugee; nobody deserves to be a refugee. And for as long as war is part of the human condition, none of us are immune to becoming refugees. So, all refugees merit equal respect and compassion.
It would be naive to think that we can protect ourselves selectively — alone — from the challenges in a global world by pulling away from other countries or peoples…an unstable world is an unsafe world for all. And there is no barrier high enough to protect from such disorder and desperation. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, you are not safe if you lock your doors. Isolationism is not strength. Fragmentation is not the answer. Strength lies in being unafraid in working with others, and living up to our highest ideals.”
Angelina Jolie spoke as part of the BBC’s World on the Move day of coverage of global migration issues.