by Nathan Burns, Founder
Take a moment to think about the world you live in. Not the world we live in. Your world.
Think about your family. Remember important special moments spent with them. Breathe in their laughter, their emotion, their sheer presence. Next take a walk around your home. Look at the pictures on the wall, think about what they mean. Feel the comfort of your memories, the safety of your bedroom, the creativity of your kitchen, the cleanliness of your bathroom.
All the things you treasure, all in one place.
Now imagine – just for a moment – that in the depths of night your house is razed to the ground. Imagine all you own – keepsakes, cars, boats, pets…whatever – completely destroyed. Imagine members of your family being shot, beaten and raped. Imagine losing sight of them as they try to flee – as you try to flee. Imagine the feeling of doing everything you can to save or help them, and not being able to.
Suddenly the world, your world, is destroyed. That thought you’ve had so many times, ‘It can’t happen here’ has happened, and everything has changed.
History has proven time and time again, that this is how genocide works. A series of brutal attacks, with rape playing a critical part, done quick. Overnight. Executed in bursts over many years, until a certain population is erased.
Not a day passed during DRG’s deployments where our minds weren’t blown by the brutality of the crimes inflicted on these people or the depravity of their new forced life.
I recall thinking more than a few times that in some, small way, perhaps it was the lucky ones who died.
This Crisis is Man-Made
Which brings me to the overriding and constant thought that has been in my mind whilst in Bangladesh: this – aaallllll of this – just doesn’t need to be. All this is man-made! Nothing more than a long series of ridiculous over-reactions, callous misunderstandings and a general lack of compassion for other human beings. Sure, some of this (maybe all of this) might go back centuries, but somewhere – everywhere – along the line tensions were sparked, hostilities created and populations ostracised because of a lack of compassion between brothers.
The more I thought about this single point and the more I looked around and saw the sad, gaunt faces of the Rohingya, the horrible, filthy, transient condition of their lives and the gargantuan NGO industry that has sprung up around it, the more I realised that, sadly, they’re not the only ones. Yemen. Syria. Somalia. Afghanistan. All around the world misplaced populations are fleeing the brutality of oppression rooted in geopolitics, egotism and a lack of compassion and understanding between men.
The Rohingya are the latest in a long, long, long list of innocents over the ages that simply want to live their lives. They weren’t the first and they certainly won’t be the last. Their suffering is immense and painful and brutal and heartbreaking but – and what a sad indictment this is on the human race – it is not unique.
What Can We Do
During the long daily trips to the Rohingya camps, I got to thinking about what we as ordinary, everyday people can really do about all this? Each of us have our own battles; struggling to pay the bills; ill health; priority overload; 24/7 demands; so you ask the question – what can li’l ol’ me actually do?
This is what I would suggest – actually change that to beg – you do. Take an Interest. Educate yourself. Know what is happening around the world. I guarantee that after some time of knowing what is going on, that knowledge will one day turn into an action, big or small. The scale of what you do is immaterial, just do something. Obviously you can see where I am going here. Everyone doing just a little something, will make a phenomenal difference. It might seem whimsical, but the power of their sum is tangible. I’ve seen it in action – every single day that the Backpacker Medics DRG took to the field not only in Bangladesh, but also in Nepal. I know it works (as do those that work with us) and I am so unbelievably proud to be involved in an organisation that does so much for those in need.
In fact, if the world was populated only with the kinds of positive, compassionate and caring people BPM attracts then, well, um, errrr…we probably wouldn’t need organisations like BPM!