The other night my eldest daughter Hannah was home from University in Belfast. With her studies and a part-time job she does not get home as often as she (or I) would like. She spent the night with her little sister watching the Disney film Beauty and the beast.
The main theme of the film is that appearances are not always what they seem. First impressions play a big role in our daily lives and often determine how we treat individuals from the first point of contact. The change of circumstances for the prince who was cursed to be a beast, also changed his character to be angry and secluded. But then along comes Belle and after a while she starts to see though the beastly appearance and attitude of the prince. When the beast gets the sympathy and care from Belle, there is a change that happens for both of them, from the first impressions of disgust and fear to that of kindness and safety.
Over the past year we have been watching the horrendous situation of refugees fleeing the war-torn counties of Syria and Iraq. These people through no fault of their own, find themselves having to leave their homes and communities to find safety in another land. The response from us has been a mixed reaction of kindness or fear.
I am glad that this country is bringing in refugees from the camps outside Syria but is it enough? Should we not be giving up more of ourselves to help those that are in need? We need to be giving aid and finance to countries like Italy and Greece who are bearing the brunt of the crisis. We need to be pressing our MPs and government to do more in the name of humanity and compassion.
These fellow human beings can add so much to our cultures, our communities, our lives and our work places, if we only look past their appearances and our fears.