Refugees fleeing the Middle East — or from anywhere, for that matter — deserve our credit for being courageous people. Most have endured cultural and economic violence and are families who are scared, hungry, hopeful, and only want better lives. From my limited 50-year perspective, economic injustice, religion, and male domination through organizational cronyism are the primary causes for people to flee to somewhere else.
No matter where they flee, refugee families face tough odds. They are starting over in a completely different place, often with different cultural norms, and they are sometimes met in that new home by a hostile crowd. The overwhelming unwelcome is often based in fear and sometimes leads to increased hatred and more violence. And the cycle continues.
A Nov. 17 “thank you” post by the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center in Cedar City via their Facebook page made me think about how we treat our local refugees and how we and our elected officials can do more to help.
The CCWCC is fundraising to maintain and upgrade their current shelter with a goal of $50,000 in order to take advantage of a federal matching grant. As part of their “Go Out For Shelter” event, donation cans were placed at 14 businesses around the community whereby just over $13,300 was raised. These businesses deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for promoting awareness of domestic violence and the need for safe havens and for their gracious participation in fundraising for this most necessary of community needs.
I was sad to see that the fundraiser only met 33 percent of its goal and am concerned that they may not meet their matching grant requirement, jeopardizing their shelter upgrade efforts and the services they provide in combating the cycle of violence in our community.
In my view, healthcare — including refugee services — is a human right and should be accordingly funded. For example, I believe President Obama and the Democrats did not go far enough in 2009 to create a system of socialized care borne primarily by increasing the income taxes of the uber-wealthy and their autonomous corporations. From my perspective, we only needed to return to the tax rates of the 1950s when we believed in investing in the infrastructure and citizens of our society to fund it.
That said, I am under no delusion that there will soon be such civic altruism.
Locally, we need to take care of the refugees of domestic violence through properly base-funding our family crisis centers. If commissioners believe all politics are local, so too does it mean making up the difference for any funding gap that occurs based on the vagaries of federal or state budgeting activities. As citizens we must demand as much, and in Iron County and other southern Utah counties, citizens haven’t, allowing their local boards to trade complete, maintained, and modern family crisis centers and other public health services for their personal Western Freedom Festivals and wasteful public lands lawsuits.
Globally, we need to take care of refugees of violence. We must do our part as global citizens to provide moral leadership and demand ethical funding to proactively identify humanitarian needs and to provide for global solutions with adequate funding. At a minimum, we need more from our planet’s one percent and their corporations along with at least one less B-1 bomber and hundreds of thousands more safe havens for families.
Most refugees flee with their children who then carry love or hatred with them for the rest of their lives. We owe it to our children and their future to break the cycle of violence, domestic or otherwise, and a large part of doing so is providing for adequately funded, staffed, and safe places for families to get back on their feet and begin new lives.
Until we do make these budgetary decisions as a local and global society, I guess we’ll need to continue to rely on donation cans.
To that end, if you have the luxury, please consider making a 2015 tax-deductible donation to reputable organizations that assist refugees and their families, whether at home or abroad. Extend your invisible hand a little further.
Even if you do not have the luxury, everyone must continue to participate in their democracy and demand that our elected leaders better prioritize what they fund so that the basic needs of our neighbors can be met, the result being a safer and healthier future for our ourselves, families, and children — regardless of where we live.