Take Heart and Take Action—to End War

By Tord Dellsén and Stephanie Van Hook

Photo: wikimedia Photo: wikimedia


A month or so ago, many of the headlines streaming through social media emphasized the negative responses to refugees making their way into Europe for sanctuary. It was enough to make a person feel like humanity had reached a new low. And then, something happened: people began to respond with a massive outpouring of support and generosity–and urgency. The response if very much in the spirit of what we call at Metta ‘constructive program’-– everyone can do something. Notice, this is not a ‘protest movement’ as much as it is an active embodiment of living the world that one wants to see; showing our politicians and our neighbors that love it greater than fear and hatred.

Here are just a few of the stories to help us see what really makes us human, after all: our capacity to resist wrong when we see it, even if it calls for risk-taking; and our capacity to nurture and care for one another. These few stories among thousands will echo the voice of one asylum seeker who wrote to the SolidaritywithGreece Facebook page:

 “Thank you all for restoring my faith in humanity after so much darkness and hate.”


Last week in Europe, normal people all over the continent responded to the refugee crisis by:

– Hundreds of Austrians organizing convoys to go to Hungary and escort refugees with their personal cars, risking fines for violating human trafficking laws and hundreds of Austrian rail workers pledging to work overtime for free, to drive special refugee trains this week to get the refugees at their destination.

– Thousands of Germans flooding to train stations with food, first aid, clothes and love as they organized welcoming parties for the more than 10.000 refugees arriving by train.

– More than 10.000 people going into the streets in Paris to show solidarity with the refugees and migrants coming to Europe.

– More than 15.000 Icelanders offering to host refugees in their homes after someone on Facebook called out their government for only taking in 50.

– More than 420.000 Brits signing a petition asking their government to allow more refugees in and to provide financial support.

And many other initiatives all over Europe, from Greece to Sweden, from the Netherlands to Spain.


“Our lives are short, very short. Let’s fill it with good deeds.”


“We should all look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we can help… My house is not being used much at the moment.”

Finnish Prime Minister opens his house to welcome refugees. 


refugees welcome

“We are convinced that refugees should not be stigmatized and excluded by being housed in mass accommodations. Instead, we should offer them a warm welcome.”

A German couple starts a website, Refugees Welcome, to offer home accommodations.



”May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family – starting with my diocese of Rome.”

Pope Francis calls on religious communities in Europe to follow his example and welcome a family in need. 


“I am breathing, finally.”

-A warm welcome for Syrian refugees in Munich (above video).



Photograph: Oliver Killig/dpa/Corbis Photograph: Oliver Killig/dpa/Corbis


“Hospitality, respect and openness towards asylum seekers follows directly on from sporting values held by our teams.”

Football teams across Europe and the UK offer support to refugees. 

A-vigil-for-Reza-Barati-i-011 Photograph: GetUp

“Direct, collective action can make a difference.”

Australians “Light the Dark” to demonstrate that they want to keep their borders open to refugees. 


While all of these stories are inspiring and powerful, there is one thing missing: we have to ask the question, publicly, about war. Imagine if this mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people would extend into a movement to root out and address the very causes of war, with the same constructive spirit of everyone doing something, one thing at a time, to work for that world.

Can you help to start that conversation with your friends and family?