Whenever I read histories of World War II or of countries with great political disruption (the Burundian or Cambodian genocide; the French Revolution), the most unnerving thing is how material wealth doesn’t really do a lot for you. If you want your wealth to mean something, you have four options: 1) Lie, and tell the invading army you’re on their side, throw them parties, and let them think they have a chance with your daughters. 2) Get a bank account in Nauru or Switzerland. 3) Make sure your money is in gold or jewelry or lots of guns. 4) Get out early.
I keep thinking about our gardeners in San Diego who had been surgeons in Vietnam, but during the war escaped to sunny San Diego to operate with weedwackers.
Then there was a tall, tired, rough and tumble looking man in an old coat I met at an Amnesty International meeting here in Brooklyn. He introduced himself as a dockworker from Turkmenistan. After a few meetings, I learned that he had actually been a political science and history professor over there. We bonded over our love of history.
All this to say, they should teach refugee skills in school.