Tuesday, 8 September 2015

It could happen to any of us

Last week the news was dominated by photos of Aylan Kurdi, the three year old boy who drowned when the boat he was in with his family capsized.  The images were shocking and horrific and I cried on the bus to work when I was reading the news.

Images of people suffering and dying are always horrific, but I think what brought this home to most people was the fact he was so young, so helpless, and dressed in 'western style' clothing - I think one of the reasons this image was so powerful was because many people could look at that little boy and then look at their children, and think, "shit, that could be my child".

It certainly kicked the newspapers into action - one example being The Daily Mail, who only six days earlier ran a front page story about "how many more migrants can we take", now featured a photo of the drowned boy face down in the sand, with the headline "The victim of a a human catastrophe". Well done Daily Mail - whatever sells papers eh. (that's sarcasm FYI - I detest the Mail).

Unfortunately, not everyone was moved by the picture of the small boy.  Some ignorant, heartless sociopaths who have nothing better to do with their lives, continued and still continue to spout vile, factless and quite frankly stupid opinions on facebook and other internet forums.  One that particularly upset me was the former UKIP candidate Peter Bucklitsch who made headlines by announcing on his twitter feed that Aylan's parents were to blame for his death for putting him in that situation, that they were 'greedy' for wanting to come to Europe.  The statement enough is upsetting, but the fact that many people agreed with him made it worse.  (This could lead into a whole other debate about people's opinions, free speech, and the responsibilities of public figures watching the things they say and publish.  I'll save that for another time).

People are so quick to judge others, and the internet makes it even easier to type out stupid comments on a whim and for it to then spread.  It was such an ill-thought out and disrespectful comment.  I think unless you've been in Syria, you cannot judge anyone for their actions in wanting to get out - and you wouldn't endanger your child unless you were really desperate and didn't think you had any other choice.

I was in the hairdressers the other day and listened in on a conversation my hairdresser was having with his client (yes I am nosy!).  She was a teacher at a school in South London, and in her class she had a Syrian boy.  He was an orphan - he'd watched his parents be blown up in a market place, and was now living with foster parents in London.  No one knew how old he was, or when his birthday is - at a guess they have said he's 12.  He is slowly learning to speak, read and write in English, and the first thing he ever wrote was "I love school".

People are so horrible sometimes.  This article on The Daily Mash made me laugh (and sort of want to cry too) because it's really quite true.   This also made me really despair - it's actually quite scary that a 17 year old boy, on a whim, started a petition based on no evidence whatsoever, and that 100,000 people then signed it, based on what he'd written, which had no substance whatsoever.  I'd like to start a petition whereby anyone who says anything derogatory and heartless about the crisis is swapped with a Syrian refugee - they can swap lives, and maybe it'd teach them some humanity.

I think the thing a lot of people forget is that it could be them.  It could so easily be them.  This video is a brilliant demonstration of this.

It's pure luck we live where we do, in a developed, safe country.  People take SO much for granted, their house, their family, their belongings, their skin colour, their gender, their birthplace.  Who knows, in the future the UK could become a war zone, and where would we escape to?

I absolutely loved this facebook status by Emlyn Pearce, a writer, below.  Why do we feel like we have a god given right to travel the world and resettle wherever we want to, yet a portion of us don't feel like we can extend the right to anyone else?

"Emigration is completely out of control in this country, and I’m sick of it. I’m not staying quiet any more. You can’t walk down a street in Jamaica or Hong Kong or India without hearing someone speaking English, and in Canada and Australia we have even introduced our own legal system, decimated local communities and installed our own head of state! DISGUSTING! English has now been imposed as the official language of 57 sovereign countries! FIFTY SEVEN!!! What the hell? Who do we think we are?! And the government is doing nothing: any British person can just pack their bags and go and live anywhere in the world at ANY TIME and nobody in the British government will do anything to stop them. If I wanted to, I could just get on a plane to Germany tomorrow, get a job in their booming economy and live there for the rest of my life! My parents could up and retire to Spain or Portugal at a moment’s notice! Why should we have that right? It’s political correctness gone mad! (And it’s also probably, somehow, part of the war on Christmas, and health and safety and women thinking it’s ok to wear comfortable, unsexy clothing.)

The figures speak for themselves: 

1,300,000 Britons live in Australia; 761,000 in Spain; 678,000 in the USA; 603,000 in Canada; 291,000 in Ireland (11,200 of whom are drawing unemployment benefit from the Irish state), and even 8,500 in Mexico and 7,100 in Kuwait! We’re literally EVERYWHERE! I bet there’s at least one branch of Greggs in the Falklands.
We need to close our borders immediately before the situation gets even worse for everyone else. We are sleepwalking into a nightmare where a third of the world will be overrun by the British! AGAIN!"

I also want to link to this blog post - it's a lot more articulate than mine and I love the honesty of it.  I wish more people felt like this.

Anyway I am not too sure what the point of this post is.  Maybe there doesn't need to be a point. I think I just wanted to rant about how horrible people can be and how important it is to not take things for granted, to make informed opinions, to have sympathy and compassion, treat others how you would like to be treated yourself, and to generally try not be a dick.

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