When I started writing (writing again?), I had no idea the current refugee crisis would wind up becoming central to my thoughts.
Immigration is always an issue for me. The hypocrisy of the US’s approach to immigration embarrasses me daily. And, frankly, the UK has given me nothing to celebrate.
I am a pacifist. I am a humanitarian. I am, despite what my sharp words might suggest, an optimist. I believe that if you take 100 people, at least 90 of those people will be good, honest, kind, decent, and caring. I also believe that it makes much more sense to focus energy on developing those 90 people than it does to worry about – or worsen – the other 10.
I believe that good begets good.
I prefer to believe hopeful.
So, frankly, I just don’t get it. I do not understand why people are being so awful to each other right now.
I am a reasonably intelligent, thinking, logical creature. I am not incapable of understanding the economic arguments being put forward by governments. It’s just that I think they are not true.
Kindness costs nothing. Not a penny; not one pence.
A community leader I know regularly calls out to citizens to “love thy neighbor, feed the hungry, clothe any that are naked”. . . .
Clothing the naked? Do not try to tell me we are stretched in any way in this regard.
Feeding the hungry? Well, given how much food we throw away – trash, bin, WASTE – in the US and the UK, we’ve got some to spare.
Love thy neighbor? Well . . . well . . . this appears to be much, much more difficult for us. ‘Love’? ‘Neighbor’? Hmmmm.
We have convinced ourselves – through politics, through religion, through propaganda – that ‘goodness’ and ‘financial success’ are the same, we seem to have managed to give ourselves an out-clause when it comes to loving our neighbors.
Clearly, that hungry, dirty, ‘unclothed’ person has somehow failed to be good enough. If s/he were ‘good’, this wouldn’t have happened.
We apply this logic to ‘our own’, so it’s hardly surprising that we are allowing this same level of vitriol to be applied to those trying to ‘infiltrate our borders’.
How ugly have we become? How hideous will we allow ourselves to be? How little do we care how history will judge us?
Well, if you’re of the 29% of Mail on Sunday readers who believe Britain should take no refugees from Syria; if you’re of the 60% of Americans dissatisfied with current levels of immigration; if you’re a fan of this new wave of fence-building, then, I fear, very ugly, hideous, and not concerned at all.
I like to think, though, that without ‘go home’ vans, and deportation drives, and xenophobic rhetoric, most of us are more like the Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, like Yvette Cooper, like Nicola Sturgeon, like the thousands of individuals who are speaking up daily to say “I want to help. I am better than these governments and these practices and this politics. I will not watch people die. I will not watch people suffer.”
People, humans, immigrants, emigrants, migrants, refugees do not leave their homes, their histories, their ‘native lands’ to do ill. People, humans, immigrants, emigrants, migrants, refugees leave their homes, their histories, their ‘native lands’ because they want better lives for themselves and their children and their futures.
That is, I think, what we all want. Where we are born should not dictate the outcome.
I am a pacifist, a humanitarian, an optimist. I believe that if you take 100 people, you will find that 90 of those people are good, honest, kind, decent, and caring.
Perhaps you are not so optimistic. Perhaps you cannot accept the risk – limited though it is, overstated though it may be by press and politics.
At the very least, though, at the very, very least, try to find the kindness in your heart to offer a lifeline to people whose world has been blown apart.