Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Hope and Fear

This week has been filled with very intense emotions about the big stuff, who we are as human beings. I'm not sure if to despair or rejoice.
It is heartening to see the public support for refugees, the direct action collections and Save the Children's Refugee Crisis Appeal exceeding its targets. People have been touched, a lot of people want to help and empathise with the desperate situation refugees not just from Syria find themselves in.

And then there's the other voices, so prominent because of this world of anonymous social media where everything goes, where the vilest of comments are acceptable somehow. But it's not always the straight forward vileness that depresses me, but the playing out against one another of marginalised groups.

As if wanting to help refugees who have lost everything, who have kids that just want to be safe and play rather than be shot, bombed or drown, comes at the expense of the homeless or other people in dire straits.

That line that we should look after our own first.

I feel very alienated from such discourse. I can try and understand it with my analytical mindset. I know that we as social animals create in groups and out groups, how important peer groups (=any kind of identity groups, ethnic, religious) are. But somehow deep down I don't get it, because when I look at any person I see a mirror, I see me, I relate, I do not see difference. I could be Syrian. My country could be destroyed. My country was destroyed, before my time, but my parents remember the trauma well, of hiding from bombs, of begging for food, of preventable serious illness, of losing their dads to a war that was not theirs, of left behind women trying the best to survive.

There is no "our own". Borders are no more than a trick of the mind, no wait, politicians, who like us to believe that we can impose political structure onto our planet. The reality is that there is one earth, one inhabitable planet, with limited resources, a growing population, climate change that causes changes which will lead to mass movements of people. What we see now is only the start. I'm not fearmongering but there is no doubt in my mind that in the long run we cannot shut borders or control immigration because people will need to move, people will move. From war, from the effects of climate change.

The argument that it's for the "generous" benefits in the UK is ridiculous, these are people running to survive and there aren't actually that many trying to get to the UK compared to other countries. We only see the tip of the iceberg.

Playing refugees out against the homeless or ex servicemen (who actually have access to some resources, even if arguable these aren't sufficient) is totally missing the point. What's more, it's playing out one group of people in need against another. It divides to divert our gaze from the real issues, issues of inequalities within our country, and inequality between countries. Our riches are built on exploitation of natural resources found in other countries, of the tobacco, sugar, and yes slave trade and now that we have it all we don't want to share.

It's extremely upsetting. I wish I could just focus on the outpouring of generosity, which should be so heartening. But I've seen burning reception centres in the past and the incitement to hatred I've seen in the media and particularly on social media fills me with fear. We held vigils at reception centres to protect them from arson. As a teenager I was outraged and self righteous, convinced that the good in people would prevail. I'm just not that sure anymore.

1 comment:

loxis lex said...

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