Humans. Of which we are all.
We have needs and desires that we hope one day will be met. There are troubles in the world that some of us cannot even comprehend and, fortunately, will never have to suffer. For some, however, such struggles are written in their fate. Bombs drop at their feet, their home is no more. Some refuse to be the ones who drop those bombs, say no to holding a gun in their 16 year old hands and instead say yes to a future that speaks hope and peace, not fear and violence.
Then there are people who face struggles of a different kind, where their lands are hostile in other ways, where the soil and climate is changing for reasons they did not create. Where they feel that they may be happier elsewhere…
When fear and worry have subsumed your existence, are you not entitled to escape such a life and begin the journey towards building new one? When sand, sea and tarmac appeal to you more than terror and hardship, you would hope that people you meet on your journey to better your life are compelled to support you, not reject you.
They have mustered the bravery and courage to leave what is familiar to them and have plunged themselves feet first
into the great depths of uncertainty
so that maybe one day their eyes will be shining with happiness, not sinking with fear.
No one should be able to deny a fellow being the right to seek sanctuary. But today, it appears as though migrants and refugees represent all the darkness that exists in the world. They bring the reality of the world’s issues right to their doorstep and are rejected. Because it is easy to abandon those you have never met, to treat them as statistics and shirk any sense of compassion because their faces are not in front of you. Their children are not stood before you, and thus their misery does not impair your own happiness.
But, the sanctuary that we live in in our own homelands are not our possession.
Everything that exists is only worth as much as it is valued
And so sharing your homeland as a sanctuary for others will only increase its worth.
Without empathy and patience, the people living homeless and in a state of limbo in Calais would sink into the ether without humanity blinking an eye.
Compassion is the water under the ship of humanitarian operations
We have to notice everyone. We have to make the human connection to all we encounter.
We have to stop insisting that this is not political when we live in a world where giving someone a cup of water is deemed an arrestable offence.
Fundamentally, the humanitarian aid in Calais is not about advocating human rights, it is simply about meeting them.
It is not about tackling police brutality, or about making a statement about the inability of the state to deal with the crisis happening on European soil.
Instead, it is about recognising that there are people without a home, without the means to feed themselves, and responding to that need on the most raw, human level.
But every time the police slam a lid onto a gastro of rice, every time a hosepipe is snatched from the hands of a migrant, every time a young boy is literally kicked from under his sleeping bag in the woods where he cowers in the shadows, a small part of humanity is torn from the fabric of society.
And so, the act of providing food to a marginalised and abandoned group of humans becomes political, but the solution is not to deprive people of basic sustenance. That is not a solution; it is an inherently inhumane and an immoral response.
Although everything we do feels like we must subscribe to a faction, it should not be an ‘us and them’ scenario. It is a tangled mess, but if the solution is to come it can only be done by those on both sides working towards the most humane outcome
Humans are not numbers
They are not the order given by the prefecture,
They are not cattle to be herded away from the only place they can rest,
They are not bin bags to be fined,
They are not Identity Documents to be checked,
They are not the tear gas canisters attached to the belts of CRS officers,
They are neither the rubbish picked up by volunteers, nor the photos sold on by journalists.
They are individual souls,
They are worthy of being treated as fundamental beings of this world; not cleared from the space they occupy. For that space is all they have to feel present in their minds. To be noticed; to eat, drink, laugh and dance.
To feel alive, if not for a fleeting moment.
Before the police come.