The Goal Cannot be as Short Sighted as to Stop the Boats

Today I heard that the response of the Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the images of the 3 year old boy Aylan Kurdi’s body being retrieved from the beach in Turkey was a tragic reminder that we need to ‘stop the boats’.

Sadly this naive view of stopping the boats seems incredibly short-sighted and misdirected. Is this all we can say?

Maybe stopping the boats will stop such innocence lives being lost at sea.

But let us not think for one moment that it stops the barrel bombs and the guided missiles, let us not think that it stops the bitterness and the hatred, let us not think that it makes us more compassionate and more caring, let us not think it ends the suffering and the terror, let us not think it gives safety and security for those who are seeking out the people smugglers, let us not think that it will make the refugee camps any better at providing for the millions in need.

With the constant daily news of refugees dying at sea, or in trucks and shipping containers, or being placed in mandatory detention, or trapped on the borders of countries or at railways stations people are still choosing these potentially deadly options rather than stay where they are.  There need is dire and desperate.

No this is not just a tragic reminder that we need to stop the boats.  It is a reminder that we are one humanity, that our divisions destroy us, that war is evil, and that we need to learn the ways of justice and mercy and peace and compassion.

And more than that it is a reminder that when we watch on from a distance as these events unfold our place is on our knees praying and crying out to God for forgiveness and mercy and for comfort.  Comfort for Abudllah Kurdi whose wife and two children are now dead; mercy for the millions who are displaced and seeking safety no matter the risk; forgiveness for our inhumanity as a whole human race.

I long for peace in my time and as I approach Father’s day my thoughts are with this man who now faces his future without these beautiful children who were every bit as precious as mine.