How to Change a Life in 4 Seconds

Home is a four letter word. Representing a four walled structured. Built to withstand the four seasons. With (sometimes) four family members living under its roof.

And it can be ripped away from you in four seconds.

In an official June statement, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), reported that nearly every four seconds, someone is displaced from their home, their community, or their country. So that means that each day over 23,000 people each day flee their home in search of somewhere safe.

It’s not a reality that most of us are willing to face. But it’s very much a reality for more than 7.6 million new refugees in this year alone. Whether it be war, genocide, or rebel forces, the main cause of displacement is simply that millions across the globe don’t feel safe anymore.  

And there is not an easy solution. The UNHCR has made their attempt at their solutions, and took their best shot at Voluntary Repatriation (returning to their homeland), Resettlement (finding a new country of temporary residence), and Local Integration (legalizing residency in the host country).

Yet still, with over 45.2 million refugees abroad, these solutions simply aren’t enough. We don’t need a solution that simply shifts people around, but a solution that actually addresses the causes of the problem itself.  

In Neale’s ever appropriate style, When Everything Changes, Change Everything shows us that with so many people moving, shifting, and changing, we can’t just sit still on the sidelines any longer. We can’t just stay comfortable in our Old Definition of the World. What we need is a massive overhaul of our beliefs (and humanity itself) that let these hostile environments grow and survive.

If we want to help these people, and I mean really help these people, we need to change our definition of our most basic ethics. And we can start off with the concept of Just War, or Jus ad bellum (to give you an idea how long this has been a part of our dysfunctional belief system). Latin aside, Jus ad bellum is the justification of warfare IF warfare can be justified. Straight from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, war can be justified if the following conditions are met (with my scathing sarcasm):

1. Just Cause. Because, of course, a war must be fought for the right reasons, which could include ‘self-defense’ (fear of losing power) and ‘punishment for wrongs against the country’ (revenge).

2. Proper Authority to Declare War. Only if the authority is approved in the country’s constitution (assuming the document itself is not corrupt) can the country be legitimately engaged in warfare.

3. Right Intention. As long as a country has the right intention of its warfare, (even if it is against its own people) it can still be given the A-Okay.

4. Last Resort. When a country has exhausted every other option (except direct communication and conversation with the opposing party, of course).

5. Probability of Success. There must be a chance that the conflict has a resolution (and won’t lead to years upon years of civil war, genocide, millions of refugees fleeing the country…oh wait, too late on that one).  

6.  Proportionality. As long as the ‘good outweighs the bad’, (with the fighting government judging the scale), then the war is considered be worth it.  

The top five nations of exodus – Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria – were all at one point considered to be a hot topic of foreign policy seminars. But, with debate through the UN, war in these countries became ‘justifiable’ at one point or another, especially seen with the case of Syria (whose refugee numbers begin to climb faster and faster). Within the international community, we just accepted that these countries had problems, had violence and we said fine. They are justified.

Unfortunately, that’s not even the worst part. We have even created justifications for the CONTINUATION OF WARFARE, known as the evil stepsister Jus in bello, which is accepted on the following terms:

1. Discrimination. As long as the right people are being punished, (and never the innocent villagers), war can continue.

2. Obey International Law on Weapon Usage. If the country is following code (set up by no one else but the UN itself…remember Syria’s usage of biological weapons?), war can continue.

3. Minimum usage of force and brutality. If a country uses the most peaceful warfare possible (and not grant itself massive amounts of power to make more destruction), war can continue.  

Can we really live with these ridiculously outdated beliefs? Apparently we can, and apparently our governments want us to. The main focus of the United Nations IS to oversee international affairs. But monitoring can only go so far. When will the UN finally realize that they can solve the refugee problem by never giving it the conditions to happen in the first place?

Until we can stop living in our delusion that ruthless violence should be accepted anywhere, we will continue to have more people without somewhere to call home. Until we can live in a society where peace, compassion, and oneness are at the core of its belief system, we will continue to have more people trying to run away from suffering. Until we can be together living in a world where the love of thy neighbor is greater than the fear of thy neighbor, we will continue to have more people who are just as lost and confused with the purpose of life as we once were.

So as people’s lives are torn from right under them every four seconds, you CAN help with four little words. Believe in something different. Know that there IS a spiritual solution to every problem. That is the seed in which society will thrive. And in every four seconds, people will be running towards this new world.

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at

Please Note: The mission of The Global Conversation website is to generate an ongoing sharing of thoughts, ideas, and opinions at this internet location in an interchange that we hope will produce an ongoing and expanding conversation ultimately generating wider benefit for our world. For this reason, links that draw people away from this site will be removed from our Comments Section, a process which may delay publication of your post. If you wish to include in your Comment the point of view of someone other than yourself, please feel free to report those views in full (and even reprint them) here.
Click here to acknowledge and remove this note: