I think it is often better for refugees to resettle in countries similar to the one they fled, provided they are safe there, but that this is not an excuse to refuse giving whatever help we uniquely can;* and if you say that it’s unfair to help some people if we can’t help all of them, I’ll have to quote the story about the starfishes on the beach at you.
The inability to make a positive difference for everyone doesn’t invalidate efforts to make a positive difference to one person.
Two people are on a beach littered with starfishes. One man is picking up the fishes and tossing them back into the ocean. The other man says, “Why waste your time with that? You can’t save all the starfishes.” The first man picks up a starfish and tosses it into the ocean. “Saved that one.”
This is how it’s usually presented and as mentioned, there’s often a religious angle to it. But Eiseley (not a religious man) was writing about what it meant that man is an animal that tries to save things like the starfish. In the essay, it didn’t matter if the thrower could save only one star or all of them.
Heh. I am reminded of one of the few Facebook posts that made me laugh. Someone posted one of those “Share this picture of Jesus” things using a picture of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, presumably for comedic purposes. Which was not particularly funny in itself, but in the comments below it someone had written:
Glurge is a catch-all term for any “inspirational” tale which conceals a much darker meaning than the uplifting moral lessons it purports to offer. (The word “glurge” was initially coined by a reader of Snopes.com , and derives from the sound of someone throwing up.)
Glurge - TV Tropes
The starfish story is used by a number of foster/adopt organizations. Usually, the last lines spoken are along the lines of, “There are too many, throwing a few back doesn’t matter!” “It matters to this one.” (toss) Starfish jewelry with the “it matters to this one” line are common.
It just occurred to me to ask how all those starfish got on the beach? They’re not a migrating species (laden or unladen), and it doesn’t seem like the tide would strand that many of them in one location.
Are starfish capable of experiencing trauma? I know that I am; and if I had, through the normal hurly-burly of life’s vicissitudes, been transferred from a suburban to a hyper-rural environment, then finding myself suddenly flung back into the suburban environment would probably be pretty traumatic, and not at all the kind of thing I would be grateful for, the benevolent intentions of the flinger notwithstanding.