"Are we responsible for helping people in refugee situations like Darfur?"
And I was completely shocked when many, almost all of the students, answered no.
So I probed a little deeper to discover why. Many of them felt that we had issues here in Canada that should be dealt with first. (Fair point) It is the middle of a recession and people need to conserve their money. (Another fair point) And that if they don't live in our country then we aren't responsible. (Interesting)
I spun the discussion around a little bit and got back to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we had studied earlier in the week, and asked if they felt they deserved all these rights? They agreed that yes they did. So I asked who was responsible to make sure they got their rights. Eventually the conversation got around to the point that if we have all these rights then we also have the responsibility to make sure others' rights are not infringed upon.
We are responsible to each each other because we are all human.
Or as one student said, "we have to make sure we've got each other's backs".
But it took a long time. I was a little shocked, and sad, to discover how little empathy they felt for these people initially. But that's not even right, because we watched a video about various refugee situations and they did feel empathy. I guess I mean to say I was surprised about how little motivation they left to try and change the situation or help these people. It's not our responsibility they said.
Then who's is it?
I asked my husband last night about it because it continued to nag at me. Are they too young to understand this concept? Or just too jaded? I think they eventually understood that a humans we all have a responsibility to each other but I am not really sure just how deeply they understood.
What do you think? Too young? Too jaded?