Review: The refugee crisis is a test of our character

Speaker: David Miliband
TED2017
Date: April 2017
Location: Vancouver, BC

Description from TED website:
Sixty-five million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and disaster in 2016. It’s not just a crisis; it’s a test of who we are and what we stand for, says David Miliband — and each of us has a personal responsibility to help solve it. In this must-watch talk, Miliband gives us specific, tangible ways to help refugees and turn empathy and altruism into action.

Select this image to jump to the actual video on the TED website.
https://www.ted.com/talks/david_miliband_the_refugee_crisis_is_a_test_of_our_character
Select the image to go to the actual video.

My Review / Notes / Thoughts

“[T]he biggest question in the 21st century concerns our duty to strangers. The future “you” is about your duties to strangers. You know better than anyone, the world is more connected than ever before, yet the great danger is that we’re consumed by our divisions. And there is no better test of that than how we treat refugees.”

“When Pope Francis went to Lampedusa, off the coast of Italy, in 2014, he accused all of us and the global population of what he called “the globalization of indifference.” It’s a haunting phrase. It means that our hearts have turned to stone.”

Like many of the other TED Talks I’ve reviewed, this one is a powerful message. It’s hard to sum up these talks in a review — so much easier to provide quotes that stand out to me from the talks. So, as always, please be sure to watch the actual video.

David Miliband discusses his personal history with refugees, having had family members that were refugees themselves. He also works with an NGO and gets to meet and speak with refugees from around the world. In this talk, he makes a multitude of valid points that we need to consider … in my opinion, one of the most important being about history, about valuing it and remembering it. He states that if we throw away the refugee, we are throwing away part of our history.

David Miliband doesn’t just talk about the problems, he also provides some solutions to the problems that he discusses in his talk.

  1. “[T]hese refugees need to get into work in the countries where they’re living, and the countries where they’re living need massive economic support.”
  2. “[E]ducation for kids is a lifeline, not a luxury when you’re displaced for so long.”
  3. “[M]ost refugees are in urban areas, in cities, not in camps.”
  4. “The most vulnerable refugees need to be given a new start and a new life in a new country, including in the West.”

He states that the refugee crisis is a test of our humanity, that it reveals our values, and if we still have a moral compass. It reveals is we know our own history and the power of democracy as a refuge from dictatorship.

Most importantly, it reveals if we have any humility for our own mistakes. After all, we are human, and our foreign policies do include errors — we aren’t perfect. And no humanitarian action can make up for the errors “but when you break something, you have a duty to try and help repair it.”

If you want to learn more (other than by watching the video) you can check out his book linked below.

Note: Links are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make any purchases.

Miliband’s Book:

Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time
https://amzn.to/3g6WvTn
Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time

So what actions can you take to help with the refugee crisis?
Can you hire a refugee and give him/her a job so they can help support themselves and their families?
And by doing so, help support your local economy? (After all, they need housing, food, and clothing too.)
Can you donate to charities that help?
What about who you’re voting for?
Do those politicians discuss and show that they support humane solutions for these situations?

Until next time … live long life-learner!

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Dr. D. M. Hardy

I have a M.Ed. in Instructional Technology, and an Ed.D. in Adult & Career Education. I enjoy spreading knowledge, because we all need to be life-long learners.