Sometimes I really forget about how bountiful my life has been and still is, that is until someone or something comes along and provides me a harsh reminder of that, which is precisely what happened while watching a 2018 Oscar nominated documentary short titled “Lifeboat”.
In this 34-minute documentary, volunteers from a German non-profit regularly risk the perils at sea to save refugees fleeing from North Africa, hoping for a better life when they reach the other side of the Mediterranean.
While I’m not one to normally watch a documentary, mostly due to my interest level, I was solemnly captivated by this one. Hearing the stories of some of these people who have fled their homeland with nothing but the clothes on their backs, literally being crammed at sea with almost no room to breathe on mostly small lifeboats was heart wrenching.
Hundreds die each year on this dangerous journey due to heat exhaustion, thirst, and notably drowning, as many of them don’t even know how to swim. For those who do make it across the sea, they not only must endure the overcrowded conditions, but also will lack any type of facilities or necessities for survival, other than a lifejacket. Sitting in urine and feces is quite common on their sea bound escape from their formerly tortured lives that were filled with wrongful imprisonment, physical abuse, slavery, prostitution, and worse.
It was a glaring wake-up call for me watching this documentary given how I live in the suburbs in a cozy small home with running water, heat, AC, and a well-stocked fridge. It’s so easy to forget about that, especially on those days when I’m really struggling with physical pain. But as I watched this film, I thought about all those refugees who have been through conditions in life far worse than I ever will, who simply jump into a lifeboat and pray they’ll survive with nothing in hand, wherever they land.
Wow! That’s all I could really think of after the credits began to roll for “Lifeboat”. Far too many of us get so overly caught up in ourselves that we continually fail to remember the countless people around the world, just like these North African refugees, who’s only thoughts are that of survival, as they bound themselves to a captain-less boat ride across the Mediterranean, hoping for the best, all while fearing the worst.
Most of us probably won’t ever experience anything quite like this during any period of our lives. Instead, we’ll continue to go through our daily routines, worrying about things like paying bills, dealing with frustrating jobs, not having some ideal relationship, or even enduring health conditions that are most likely a walk in the park to the lives these refugees have lived and the lives they are attempting to create on their quest for freedom across the sea.
I hope I will remember this documentary extremely vividly the next time I find myself complaining that my Starbucks latte isn’t hot enough, or the service isn’t fast enough at some restaurant I’m dining at, or my cell phone isn’t working good enough, or even when my pain levels are high, because ultimately, each of these things are excessively miniscule compared to the level of horrors plenty continue to face on a daily basis in the rest of the world…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson