Poet and writer Tamam Kahn had the wit to contrast these two aerial photos of temporary cities — the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan, and the Burning Man encampment in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The desperate on the left, the Dionysiac on the right (below).
She also had the fortitude to use the Zaatari one as her screen saver for the past two weeks.
Zaatari, she writes on her blog, is “miles of boxed lives,” with each box a caravan, a prefab shelter, or by now simply a tent. By last month, the population of the two-year-old camp was 115,000, including 60,000 children. It is now Jordan’s fourth-largest ‘city.’
Tamam quotes Angelina Jolie on the Syrian refugee crisis, speaking in June: “1.6 million people have poured out of Syria with nothing but the clothes on their back, and more than half of them are children… Every 14 seconds someone crosses Syria’s border and becomes a refugee.”
And she ends her post with this: “I’m struck with the surreal thought that this is the time Burning Man begins to come together as a desert city — half the size of Zaatari — a celebration of life, way out in the Nevada desert. Two cities: one a sudden city of survival, the other — an enormous party of freedom and excess. Hold them both! I tell myself. May all beings have what they need. May all have shelter, food and clean water, be well, safe, and happy.”