‘Back on the ship, away with the junk’, ‘Like grasshoppers, a deadly plague’, ‘We’ve helped enough of them’, ‘Our country will soon consist of nothing but refugees’ ‘Why build a mosque for them? Will they build a church for us?’, ‘If they want to practice their religion, they should leave our country’
Yet again, people show their true face. Hard pill to swallow, considering that these comments all came from Luxembourgish people in one of the richest countries in the world. How deeply flawed human nature is. How easy it is to manipulate it. We live in a world in which people have allowed mainstream media to blind them, paired with devices that allow people to write faster than they can think. Reading through these comments made me realize two things in particular. 1. Maybe we shouldn’t have taught all old people how to use a smartphone, it would have spared us many stupid comments. 2. Young people maybe won’t be able to change their minds, but at least the majority of people under 30 seem to feel more empathetic towards any kind of stranger (or so I hope, for they/we are the future of this world)
How do I know that I’m not the one who has been brainwashed? How do I know that I’m not being blind to see the truth; that these people do not come here solely to exploit the wealth and good-heartedness of the people in this country? I know because empathy is not something we learn by reading the paper or any social media feed, it’s something we learn as children, on the playground, a virtue we should value highly and practice daily. It isn’t my head that tells me that welcoming people from other countries in financial or political trouble is the right thing to do, it’s a natural feeling. Natural as in innate. Natural as in necessary to maintain a life in community. Natural as in I know I have the responsibility to help. I emphasize not because I have to but because it is human and humane.
Arguing that whoever agrees with the government accommodating refugees should themselves invite them to their house is as invalid, narrow-minded and one-dimensional as it gets. The problem is not with those who are welcoming people into our country without offering them a bed in their own home, it is with those that think that more people could make their life worse. That only they should profit from the richness of their country, because they have been born here. And what exactly did you contribute to being born in a rich country? YOU WERE LUCKY. It’s not a merit and it’s certainly not a free ride to being racist and trying to exclude people. We obviously cannot host a million refugees, but what we can realistically do, we have to. There are always ways, and if there are none, we, as human beings are trained to create them. The answer to problems can never be hate towards those who are both least responsible and still have to live with the consequences.
I do believe, however, that another problem is the unfortunate combination of stupidity coped with the desperate need to make yourself be heard. Whoever shouts the loudest wins? Back on the playground, are we? Comments approving the government’s choice to help those in need are the minority in most comment sections. That is, so I believe, not an indication of the majority of the inhabitants being racist, but rather a sign of intelligible people refraining from unnecessary and aimless arguments, that will end in nothing but personal offense. These comment sections, as foolish as they may appear, serve the racists. Through the likes and comments their contributions get, they feel strengthened and supported in their convictions. It makes them think that they are in the right. A sign that their opinion is not based on personal experience or research, but rather on listening to the ones that shout the loudest. Vicious circle..
‘I’m not a racist, but..’
Yes, you are. Any sentence following this phrase will erase any doubt about you being racist. You are. Starting your sentence this way does not allow you to make any xenophobic comment. It’s like insulting someone and then saying ‘no offense’. Discrimination of any kind is inexcusable behavior. How dare you judge over anyone but yourself, judging over other people is a merit not a single person in this world has earned or will ever earn.
I know many people are tired, tired of being ignored by the government. People with real problems, with hungry families they have to feed. People feeling neglected and made fun of because they don’t get the help they’ve been promised. And all of a sudden, people who haven’t had to pay taxes for this country for their entire lives, people who’ve come here, seemingly not adding anything to society, they get to live here for free, get to live without having to work, without even knowing the language. But hate and racism can never be an answer. It is not the refugees’ fault that they are here, they didn’t choose to flee their own countries, their homes and families. These people are in need, they rely on other people to help them. It’s not their fault that they are being helped. Ignorance of the problems of others, hoping for them to leave as soon as possible is not going to solve your problems. These aggressions against people who seek nothing but protection, who want to live a life without the constant fear of being bombed, who want to live a normal life, will not better yours.
I get it, humans are animals. Our brains are trained to protect us. What we don’t know, we fear. But this is not the Stone Age. This is 2019. Fearing and rejecting someone because we don’t know them and they might look different is no longer tolerable. The best thing that can happen to us is by being open, by learning about others, because believe it or not, we all still have a lot to learn and if you think that the life you’re living is perfect, you are closing your eyes before much greater things that could enhance your life. We are animals, but we’re also social beings.
Compassion and love can go a long way. Don’t you dare ever forget that we’re all humans. We’re all the same and if someone needs help, it’s our responsibility to help them as much as we can. And as a country which does have the financial and spatial possibilities to help, we have to.
‘First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’ -Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)
Invent yourself, CK