Millions have escaped war and just want to live. This is how we should be talking about them.
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Gates Foundation

There are things that many of us can pick in life, like a career, what we're having for dinner, or a TV channel.

GIF via "Toy Story."


Sometimes, though, you don't have a choice. A lot of us have that in common too.

None of us gets to choose the environment we're born into or what kind of privilege we have (or don't have). It just happens.

It's part of being a person in our big complicated world. It's something we all have in common.

Image via Freedom House/Flickr.

An example: Imagine your home country is in war ... and you have no choice but to escape or risk losing your life.

You don't get a say in that stuff.

That's what has happened to millions of Syrians.

They've had no choice but to get thrown into conflict and turn into a different category: refugee.

The dangerous Syrian conflict is turning millions of lives upside-down as we watch the news from the comfort of our homes. Nearly 3 million Syrians are currently stranded across camps and cities in neighboring countries and 6.5 million are displaced within Syria. Right now.

And for some reason they've lost their identities through it all, now being referred to as things like: refugees, asylum seekers, migrants. Why?

Why not just call them "people"?

It shouldn't take a photograph of a drowned Syrian boy on the shores of the Mediterranean to realize that the people who have been forced to flee their homes are people. They are humans who deserve compassion, respect, and the right to safety.

Maybe it's time we started treating and thinking of refugees as real people ... because they are.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 2,500 people have died just this past summer on the journey across the Mediterranean in search of safety. That's 2,500 too many.

They are all people, just like you and me.

On Sept. 30, 2015, our world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to discuss the ongoing crisis.

We must call on them to lend support to our fellow people who are fleeing their war-torn countries. If we don't put pressure on them, they have no reason to take it seriously.

Doing one of these two things (or both if you have an extra second!) can be the difference between showing that you care — or don't.

1) Sign this petition from Call Them People addressed to world leaders.

2) Share this post to get the conversation going — and ask your friends to sign.

There are certain parts of life you don't get to have a choice in. But when you have the choice to stand for what's right and help out your fellow humans, will you do it?

On February 19, 2020, a group of outdoor adventurists took a 25-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they had no cell service and no contact with the outside world. When they ended they ended their journey on March 14, the man who pulled them ashore asked if they had been in touch with anyone else. When the rafters said no, the man sighed, then launched into an explanation of how the globe had been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and everything had come to a screeching halt.

The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

The rafters' story was shared in the New York Times last spring, but they're not the only ones to have had such an experience.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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