We seem to have lost our moral direction in the last few decades: perhaps it was when we were told that there was no such thing as society, maybe it was when governments of both stripes started using the fear of “immigrants” to distract us from homegrown inequality and the tightening of purse strings. Maybe as the years passed we began to forget what happens when you demonise a minority and choose to forget their humanity.
We are now in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, caused to no small degree by misguided interventions overseas: we have bombed when we should have talked, talked when we should have sanctioned and walked away when maybe we should have intervened. We screwed up, and now people are fleeing various war zones, barbaric regimes, poverty and violence. These people scrape together enough cash and give it to criminals who stuff them into boats that are too small, or lorries that are too full. And then they die. If they are lucky enough to survive, they might end up in makeshift camps where they are reviled by politicians, condemned by journalists and feared by racists and xenophobes.
But these refugees are people like you and me: they have been forced to travel far from their homes to seek safety and the hope of prosperity – I don’t think that we would be different in the same circumstances. We always want to do the best we can for our children don’t we? We want them to be happy and safe, fed and warm.
The young men who travel are no less worthy of our understanding: your dad was 21 once, single and trying to make his way in the world. That didn’t make him a potential criminal did it? He hoped to find someone to love, settle down with them and create a home. If violence and war had intervened would you have expected him to give up his dreams, stay in his shattered home town and wait for death?
But the current Tory government has decided we are full up: David Cameron pledged to keep immigration down: ‘no if’s or but’s’ he said. I guess that he meant it too – even ‘if’ dead children were washing up on beaches and people said ’but it’s a humanitarian crisis’.
Voices are now being raised against his callousness, and in Europe we are seeing valiant efforts to change the cruel narrative: instead of celebrating a new stretch of razor wire, some governments are welcoming refugees. I would like to think that the silent majority in this country are those who believe we should do the right thing, that the bigots in the ‘comment’ section of your on-line newspaper, or the front pages of our right wing press do not reflect the British people. Sign this and write to your MP to remind them that we should not stand by and let other peoples children, sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers die