The whole idea of national borders is strange, isn’t it? Here we are, on this little bit of land that we lay claim to because we were lucky enough to be born here. We didn’t earn it and we’re no more deserving of it than anyone else. But it’s ours, fiercely ours, and we shan’t let anyone else come in even if they are literally dying in the effort to get here.
Why do we have more right to it than they do? Why should it be ours and not theirs?
The only way we can justify it is through their otherness. They are not us and we are not them.
We hear about Isis but that is not us.
We hear about Calais but that is not us.
We hear about Austria, about Greece, about Turkey. We hear about migrants, about asylum seekers, about refugees. We hear about people so desperate to escape the situation they’re in that they’ll cling onto a lorry or cram into a boat or mount the Eurostar or hide in the wheel cavity of an aeroplane. And because it’s so far from our circle of experience, we – consciously or unconsciously, emotionally or intellectually – separate that from ourselves. Oh it’s sad, it’s disgraceful, it’s outrageous. But it’s as real to us as a novel.
And then a child lies dead on a beach.
And then a child lies dead.
And he’s not the first child and his death is no more senseless than the others, but we get it – for a moment – we feel it. He is us, he is we, he is me.
And there but for the grace of God go I.
This isn’t a hot take. I don’t have helpful words to add. My sadness helps nobody.
It’s easy to feel powerless and hopeless, but there are things we can do.
- Petition the government. Maybe you want them to accept more asylum seekers or to end the Calais crisis. It takes less than a minute. Do it now.
- Donate, if you can.To make a £5 donation to Save the Children text SAVE to 70008 until 31 December 2015. Or you could join the ever-lovely YA community in their epic fundraiser.
- Read, learn, educate yourself. Keep looking when it gets uncomfortable. Keep talking when it hurts.
Ain’t no I in island, anywhere on earth. How much you love your life is what every life is worth.