The other day as I was walking home with my daughters, we passed a Jewish centre, outside which a security guard stood watch.
‘Why is there always someone watching the entrance there?’ asked my 9-year old.
In the past, I would have said she’s too young to understand, but now I felt it was time to be truthful. After all, I don’t think I’d do her any favours by sheltering her from the harsh realities of the world into which she was born.
So, I explained to her about anti-Semitism, Hitler, and a little bit about the origins of the Israel-Palestine conflict, using words she could understand.
Meanwhile, her dad has begun talking to her about racism, something he has personal experience of, having been racially abused as a child.
The devastating pictures of Syrian refugees in the newspaper have not passed her by either, and this morning we talked at length about what is happening, why people are risking their lives to come to Europe and why European governments aren’t always keen on allowing them in.
‘They shouldn’t have to risk their lives like that’ was her response. ‘It’s not right.’
I wish the leaders of governments across Europe were as empathic as my daughter. After all, millions of Europeans have parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who, not that long ago, lived through one or even two world wars.
Let’s remind ourselves, therefore, that the people we see on the front pages of the papers and on the TV news are not that different from us. Not only do we have the means to help them, but we also owe it to the thousands of men, women and children fleeing a war for which the West bears partial responsibility, to open our borders, open our pockets, and open our hearts.