A little more than a year ago, the lifeless body of little Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. His image went viral and struck a cord around the world. Last week, the image of another battered child -- Omran Daqnesshes, also a victim of the war in Syria -- went viral. It reminded us of the depravity of which we are capable. But it should also remind us, Crawford Killian writes, of our duty to refugees and the benefits they bring with them:
If we treat them as unavoidable nuisances and a drain on our resources, they will become a drain indeed: underschooled, underemployed, alienated, linked to the rest of the country only through the police and social services bureaucracy.
But if we treat the thousands of Alan Kurdis and Omran Daqneeshes as an incredible stroke of luck, an opportunity to energize and sustain the country as a prosperous democracy, we will do very well indeed. They will enliven our classrooms, break our sports records, start new industries and do business around the world in English, French and Arabic.
Yes, they will bring unique problems that our schools and universities will have to deal with. But we’ve dealt with the traumatized and uprooted for at least 60 years, ever since we absorbed almost 40,000 Hungarians in a few months after the 1956 uprising. The University of British Columbia even took in a whole Hungarian school of forestry. We’re a lot better at it than we realize.
The argument against accepting refugees is always the same -- they're not like us. But, if our memories are long enough, we'll remember that we're all refugees. And, but for fortune, we'd be refugees today.