Hannah Salinas Period 5
America. This is one word with seven letters, yet it has many large connotations. What is America? When you think of America what first comes to mind? There are many words that just roll off the tongue such as apple pie, wealth, Hollywood, the American Dream, and freedom. These are only a few things that people think about when they imagine America. But why do people associate America with freedom and wealth? It could be because of the Bill Of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or even just our government.
There is freedom of religion, freedom of press, and many other freedoms that make Americans seem freer than any other country. We have freedom to choose what we want to do with our lives, how we want to spend our time, and who we want to follow. Even with all these freedoms though there will always be the question of if Americans are actually free? Freedom includes not only the right of free choice, but the ability to exercise the right of free choice. People travel to America because they have this of freedom in their minds that means you can do whatever you want whenever you want. Although this has been shown to be untrue in the past few years and very much so in these past few months with all the tragedy that has struck in Syria.
Syria is suffering many losses and the people who live there are fleeing. The number counts just keep going of Syrian refugees. They are going anywhere they can but this is causing the smaller, less wealthy countries that are closer to Syria to take in more and more refugees in an effort to help. There are more than 4 million refugees in the following countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. That is more about 95% of the refugees in all. Lebanon hosts 1.2 million refugees, Jordan hosts 650,000 refugees, Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees, Egypt hosts 132,375, and Iraq hosts 249,463 which has internally displaced 3 million people in their country in order to give the refugees somewhere to live. These countries are doing everything in their power to help these refuges even if it means a cost to their own people.
One of the countries that have stood out the most in this crisis is Greece. Greece’s economy has crashed and burned and they are in a financial crisis yet they have still opened their border to refugee in order to give them a place to live and be away from harm. Each day some 2,000 refugees are arriving on Greece’s shores from fleeing the war. Many countries have shut their borders but Greece has people everywhere willing to help and let these refugees, who have suffered so much, in to their homes and into their country. One man, actor Mandy Patinkin, sums it up perfectly by saying, “I just don’t get it. I don’t get how people in different countries all over the world can be frightened of people who suffered so much, who are so in need, who are so desperately asking to have freedom, justice and dignity. Just give them a welcome.” Patinkin is correct, we should not be afraid of these people who have suffered so much in the place that they are meant to feel safe and welcome, their homes. We have to stop blaming a culture for the doing of a group who just happen to belong to that culture. Not all people are the same which means not all people are to blame. Some people in Greece drove a car down the road that had “Free Food For All” written on the side. Many Greeks got together and had a big kitchen set up outdoors and began to cook food. There were some Greeks who just passed by and helped and this aggravated those helping so they went out into the street and began to do something about it. A man named Konstantinos Polychronopoulos, who had just lost his job, then went out and began to cook communal meals with all those who were hungry. He has been doing this ever since with anyone, Greeks, refugees, whoever wants food. It is amazing to see how the people of Greece can give so much when they have so little. Greece of any country has the most to lose with being threatened to be kicked out of the European Union and with the economy crash.
Greece really shows the side of economics that Aristotle talks about in his writing, The Politics. Aristotle says that, “Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good,” and this is a great interpretation of what Greece is doing in this crisis with the Syrian refugees. This statement can be interpreted in the way that a community of people has the purpose of something good as a whole and without this view of the good there would be no community and thus no state. Each person makes up a community. Without people there is not community and without a community there can be no state. Each person has a mission or purpose that they are born to fulfill throughout their life and without the people around them this would impossible. Aristotle in his writing, The Nicomachean Ethics, says that, “In all he does man seeks same good as end or means.” He says “the good is that at which everything aims,” which means that everything people do is to aim for the end and that the good is the end at which everyone is aiming. Greece is giving the refugees a chance to aim for the good by giving them a new start and they themselves are moving towards the end by helping others and giving them what they need to start over and this is helping them find the good in the end. Greece is giving the Syrian refugees a new chance to start a community and build a new state with a new view on what is good and how to achieve it with the help of others around them.
Aristotle says that “Men agree that the good is happiness but differ as to what this is.” As we look at definitions of happiness there are many different ways to look at it. Happiness could be said to be a pleasurable or satisfying experience, but Aristotle says that happiness cannot be pleasure because some men would “suppose it to be pleasure, which is the reason why they aim at nothing higher than the life of enjoyment.” He is saying that if happiness was pleasure then people would experience pleasure and never aim for anything higher and would never reach the end or the good. Happiness is different to us all, someone could be happy with something very little and others need larger things to make them happy. But when one Syrian refugee was interviewed after he was safe from the war, even he was happy. After everything he had been through he had a positive outlook. He found out that he was going to be able to the UK and this is what he said in his interview, “When they told me: ‘You will travel to the UK,’ I was very surprised. I asked: ‘UK? The UK?’ I was very happy.” Just this simple sentence makes me happy because it is nice to know that there is something that can make someone happy even when they have had such a hard time. We need to keep this in mind and work to help others even when we feel that we do not have much, there are always people who have less.
We have seen that even the poorest country is doing the most for the people of Syria who have suffered so much and that we as Americans and many other countries need to open our minds to the possibility that we can help others around us. Yes there is always the question of our safety if we decide to help other countries but like I stated earlier, we cannot blame a whole civilization for what a group of radicals is doing. If Greece can do, so can we.
 “Amnesty International.” Syria’s Refugee Crisis in Numbers. Accessed December 6, 2015. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/syrias-refugee-crisis-in-numbers/.
 “How Europe’s Poorest Country Is Doing More than Anyone Else to Help Syrian Refugees.” POLITICO Magazine. Accessed December 6, 2015. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/greeks-bearing-gifts-213404.
 Aristotle. “The Politics.” In How to Find Happiness without a Free Lunch. ed. Bernardo Aparicio. Accessed 2015.
 Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” In How to Find Happiness without a Free Lunch. ed. Bernardo Aparicio. Accessed 2015.
 Accessed December 6, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/global/2015/may/26/syrian-refugees-uk-we-will-build-country-boat-smuggle.