Archive for February, 2008

If I Know, Am I Responsible?

This is a question that lodged itself into my conscious thought some months ago and it just won’t go away.In this information saturated ‘global village’, as is the politically correct term at this time, there is much that we are able to learn about many things. It is not too difficult to be ‘aware’ and even less so to have an opinion. But what increasingly is concerning to me, is that when does one begin crossing the very defined line between ‘being aware’ and ‘informed,’ and actually start to act in some way that reflects a personal decision to become involved? And if one ‘gets involved’, a phrase that has long joined the tired ranks of cliche, then why? Motivation, I am slowly learning, continues to reside at the core of all that one ends up doing, or not doing.

Why become involved in a cause or a mission or anything remotely satisfying or noble? To get out of mundaneness (whatever that may mean to us); to feel deeply that we have actually achieved ‘something’; to add some legitimate excitement and value to our days; to even vindicate a deeply held belief or idea that is worthy enough to sacrifice for.

For many months now the word ‘refugee’ has dominated much of my conversation, thought and even songwriting. What started out as an interest and desire to learn more about what it means to be a refugee, has now become….what HAS it become? I am now asking myself this question because it very much ties in with the title of this post, ‘If I know, am I responsible?’ Without any conscious realization of where this ‘learning more’ was taking me, without any road map or signs to warn me where my heart was heading, the desire to know increased…..and THEN…… I was privileged to meet and spend three amazing hours with the leader of the Free Burma Rangers when I was in Thailand last year. I met his Karen medic and saw the bullet holes in his body, fired from Burma military guns. I heard stories about the one million internally displaced people (IDPs) hiding in the Burma jungle. Stories of villages destroyed by fire; fathers and grandfathers and brothers shot or tortured by the Burmese soldiers; children abducted and made to be porters and human minesweepers for the Burma army; young girls forced to join the army to service the junta’s soldiers as wives or concubines; schools and churches destroyed and rice barns burnt to the ground. In three incredible hours I gained much information, and from a man I had never dared to even hope to meet. But what does one then do with all this knowledge and awareness? I began to meet refugees from across Africa, and began talking with them, and having lunch with them…..and then one day I sat at the piano and the words and music to Do You wove themselves together.

At that time in April last year, I remember thinking that this song might be useful here at Crossroads, especially as we have a powerful simulation called Refugee Run, which allows people to experience something of what it would be to ‘have no face’ and ‘have no voice’.

No one could have imagined the journey this song has been on ever since, and the fact that it has led to the recording of a new album, which we  plan to be ready by the end of May.

I also could not have imagined that I would be privileged to make two trips to meet the Kachin refugees in Malaysia and see, hear and experience myself what it is to be a refugee in a country where you are not welcome.

The transition from awareness to desiring to be involved has been a slow one, and began with the inevitable news reports and statistics. These are necessary, but for me it only became ‘real’ when I began meeting the people -both those who are dedicating their lives to humanitarian relief and the battle for justice, and those who ARE on the run, dispossessed, living daily in fear, with no rights or access to even the most basic of services.

The knowing is no longer just in my head. My life is being changed by these people, especially the Kachin in Malaysia.

And I want to tell their stories…and I want to go back!