When it comes to helping others, the phrase ‘think globally, act locally’ comes to mind.
As Canada prepares to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees in the coming months, there are those willing to do everything in their power to help, and it’s admirable.
At the same time, there are others demanding that we ‘look after our own’ first – and the many who do just that every day are also admirable.
There’s no question the need in our own backyard is great; even some of our closest neighbours are struggling. There are children going hungry, women fleeing violence and seniors who spend all their time alone.
It’s a need that receives less public attention than its international counterpart, although it’s often brought to the forefront a little more this time of year, as Christmas approaches, despite its year-round presence.
As calls to focus on our own continue to permeate the refugee discussion, we suggest it’s a good time for all of us to ask ourselves, what exactly have we done to make things better for others?
Have we donated to the food bank? Have we checked in on that neighbour who hasn’t been seen in a few days? Have we offered to help serve meals at the local soup kitchen? Do we have extra warm-weather clothes that we could donate to help dull the chill for someone who has nowhere but outside to spend the night?
Before we criticize the help that’s being given to our international neighbours based on the belief that ‘charity begins at home’, those questions deserve due consideration.
Some say how we respond to the plight of Syrian refugees is a test of our values and generosity. The same can be said – and we would venture to an even greater degree – about how we look after our own community.
It’s easy to pretend problems, both locally and globally, don’t exist, if we stay inside, turn off our televisions, close our curtains and unplug from the Internet.
But it’s neither right nor fair to point to one group that needs help and say, we can’t help you because we have to help our own.
Especially if we’re not.
And really, even if charity does begin at home, does it have to stop there?