Flights of Freedom

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It’s crazy how fascinating airplanes are to toddlers. We live near a Bay Area airport, and when we’re outside our almost two year old never misses a single plane flying overhead. Looking up at the planes, I think about how different life will be for him than it was for me. Every time I look up at a passing plane I have the same thought.

I grew up in Iran, and there I often looked up at the planes going above us, and imagined what the passengers must feel like. I imagined they must feel excited and overwhelmed. After all, they were all probably going to America. I’d imagine how happy every person on that airplane must be to finally have that freedom to leave. I’d think about how they would step off the airplane and land in this magical place. A place where your religion didn’t matter. That airplane represented freedom to me, something that unless you’re born in a country without it, you’ll never truly understand.

The conversation we’re having about the refugee crisis and what to do with a growing tide of people fleeing their countries, reminds me, yet again, that we are not all created equal. All politics aside, people lacking wealth and family connections, born in a war torn country, almost always lose. Freedom is not handed out equally. It’s so hard to express this notion in a country where you actually have the right to speak up against the president. Where you don’t have to state your religion on a college entry exam, and be denied acceptance based on your faith. Where you don’t live in constant fear of everything you own being taken away because you refuse to join a fanatic group. These are the pillars of freedom, what refugees are risking their lives to gain. They would all rather be in their own countries, surrounded by friends and family if they had the chance. If only their country offered them the freedoms we have here.

Looking up at the sky, I hope to one day explain all this to my son. One day when he’s ready. For now, I’ll enjoy his innocence in not knowing about the pain of the world.

With a Perspective, I’m Shirin Faares Miller.


Shirin Faares Miller is creative manager for a North Bay company.