It was a heartbreaking sight.
A picture of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian child whose parents only wanted him to live a free and peaceful life, shows the innocent child lying face down on a Turkish beach, dead from drowning.
This, as well as a number of other heart wrenching images and news of Syrian refugees risking life and limb to flee their country, is what you see on social media every day since the Syria crisis started.
This is what united people all over Australia Monday night as thousands held candlelit vigils in random locations as part of the Light the Dark project.
There were people everywhere. In Elder Park in Adelaide, Hyde Park in Sydney, Treasury Gardens in Melbourne, and in a number of other locations all over Darwin, Perth, and Hobart, people stood with the crowds as they all urged the government to do more for the victims of the ongoing four-year war. Some even took part right from their very homes, lighting candles and praying with the rest of the people outside.
The call for everyone to gather started on social media, the very same place that opened everybody’s eyes to the horrors that have been going on outside the continent. Under the hashtags #LightTheDark and #RefugeesWelcome, people planned gatherings and started calling out to everyone else to do their part in trying to ease the plight of the poor and oppressed refugees.
A lot of Australians even held signs during the vigils, offering to open their homes to refugees who would be coming into the Australian border.
Other Light the Dark events will also be held throughout the week, with one in Canberra scheduled today and one in Brisbane to be held on Friday.
People both from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s own party, as well as from the Opposition, have been vocal about their belief that more can actually be done. Some have suggested that temporary visas be granted, similar to the ones given during the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Some have also called on Mr. Abbott to consider lifting the overall refugee quota.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Pamela Curr has openly announced that such rallies will continue until the Australian government decides to open their minds, their hearts, and the doors to the Australian border.
New South Wales Premier, Mike Baird, has also asked a question during an ABC program that mimicked what everybody else is asking, “Who is to say we can’t do more?”
Special thanks to Andrew Hill for the main image.