How shocking! How dreadful! How sad! — exclaim the whispers that come together with empathetically widened eyes and a sad shake of the head. They gesture towards the sheer “unbelievableness” of what has happened, and is something we see often these days. These days in which yet another old and rusty ship, full of desperate women, men and children has sunk in the dark blue moat running around the castle we claim ours: Western Europe.
Oh, you might think now, here comes another article wagging its moral pointing finger. No, everything in that direction has been said, and everyone who has their mind and heart in the right place, who took history in school, and who knows how to put things in perspective, knows – without someone having to remind them – that in situations like these, we are all in it together. Yes, it is on us to act as comrades to our fellow humans – to those, who are constantly living in actual fear of death – and to tell them that there is a silver lining: a place where they can find peace, even if only momentarily. A place where they don’t have to worry about being followed, mutilated and killed, for whatever reason their enemy has chosen.
So, it is about time to let down that draw-bridge we have pulled up in our medieval fear! Thereby we can eventually spread that highly important, but apparently forgotten message, namely, that we are not these individuals’ enemies, but their allies. Granting asylum seekers a space amongst us at our fully laden table in this thriving fortress, we not only redeem the ill our forefathers created by their urge to expand and exploit most of these very people’s homelands, but simply show benevolence.
This is the point where many, so it seems, get confused. Why do we have to help them? Why can’t they go to other countries? Why is it always us taking up? Well, there are many answers to these questions, but one can start here. To all of you who are happy about our literacy rates, our high degree of democracy, our right to national health care, our progress towards equal rights and opportunities, and everything else we sometimes forget to appreciate: helping our friends goes with it.
That’s what it takes to say thank you to the birth lottery for letting us have the privilege of being part of this modern and world leading country. Which by the way we, individually, cannot take any praise for.
All these aspects, elevating our living standards, are due to our collective effort; because we as humans learned from each other, helped each other and supported each other throughout all these centuries in which we have shared this beautiful planet.
Because, as we merged into groups, we inhabited certain territories, claimed they belonged to us, defended them against intruders, and, as a sheer matter of contingency and luck, we managed to survive. Since, for us in western Europe, the hot topic is not surviving though, but living, and in fact living a good life, a full life, a successful life, we need to make sure that the ones for whom ‘surviving’ is actually still the most important thing to achieve, are unhindered.
To grasp the extent of that is quite easy, let’s just imagine it was us, our mother, our brother or our friend who wanted just that; survive. What would we do?