As much as I love Hungarian folk art, as a Hungarian person I am deeply ashamed of how Hungary’s government is treating the people escaping violence in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During too many conversations recently I’ve found myself apologizing for the Hungarian government’s behavior during the crisis, so I want to record what I think and believe here on this blog, publicly.
The Hungarian prime minister wants to turn away desperate people in need, despite the fact that his avowed Christianity calls on him to do the opposite, and take in every last person. Families with little children, people who lost everything and sometimes everyone they knew to war are arriving (on foot!), hungry and tired, at Hungary’s borders. Where should they go instead? Back to death, or worse? And yet, the Hungarian government builds a fence to try and keep them away from their hopes, their lives, their destinations, their very survival. (The fence, unsurprisingly, keeps no one out. But it does cause injury and was costly to build.)
The two hundred thousand people escaping the country of my birth right after the 1956 revolution were not treated this way by Austria, Canada, the United States, or any other country where they landed. I am an immigrant to the United States myself. I can find no justification for the Hungarian government’s current policies.
I am one of very, very many Hungarians who disagree with and condemn these decisions. Many people help, through civilian organizations like Migration Aid. We can even help from abroad: the group’s Facebook page maintains a daily updated list of needed items and donations, many of which you can order online and have delivered to transit sites in Hungary through grocery vendors who accept payment via Paypal (check the page for what is helpful and needed).
People in Germany and Iceland have offered to take refugees into their homes. A former Hungarian prime minister has begun to host refugees in his own home. And this crisis is really just beginning, I’m afraid: the sheer number of Syrian refugees living in just one refugee camp in Jordan should give all of us pause and make us rethink how we handle mass migration from here on out.
I sincerely do not believe keeping each to ourselves is an option anymore – and maybe it never really was. We should imagine our world a hodge-podge of cultures and colors and languages that aren’t matched particularly carefully but can be reinterpreted, over and over, so that it somehow all works together anyway.
I think about that when I look at embroidered flowers: a hodge-podge of shapes, colors, techniques and materials found here, there, and everywhere. And I continue to love folk art.