Bloody foreigners, coming over here…taking our jobs…
Until recently it was very difficult to open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about all those ‘nasty’ migrants. That was until a young boy called Aylan, who had drowned, washed up on a beach in Turkey. Suddenly these nasty migrants were correctly referred to as refugees and the media yet again dictated the nations’ mindset toward an ever worsening international crisis.
For as many years as I can remember I have read or heard of how bad it is and how wrong it is that ‘people come over here, nicking our jobs and taking our houses’ but, the truth is, what would you do? What would you do if you lived in a war torn country or lived in poverty and saw the only way out as involving having to leave your home, travel to a new country and try to start your life all over again. This can’t be an easy option and sometimes involves hazardous journeys that often leads to a life of hard work and low wages in a foreign and unfamiliar land. It must be quite common that highly qualified and experienced men and women end up cleaning toilets or stacking shelves just to try to makes ends meet and all in the name of the most simple of human instincts, survival.
Okay so I accept that the migration of peoples in general is something that must have some form of control over it but at the same time there must also be an acceptance that, though we all live in different parts of the world, we are all one people. We are all human beings and, though some have declared quite loudly that they do not respect the rights or liberties of other human beings, we should not allow this to taint or affect our ability to show compassion.
So often have I heard people complaining about foreigners coming into our country and yet in the same breath they have ignored the impact our own emigration causes on other countries. The fact is that wherever people go, they forget that they themselves become ‘the foreigner’. An elderly retired English couple lounging in the Sun as they walk through the garden of their Villa in Spain complaining about the state of England caused by ‘migrants’ forget that they too have migrated to another country.
And again, perhaps we can’t sustain this amount of people on the UK welfare system, perhaps we can’t just give out free welfare without any form of contribution back into the system but then that’s more the fault of the welfare system and not a problem with migration. I’m sure there are more than enough people out there moaning about how many people are using the system just as they themselves sit back down on the couch having returned from a hard day at the dole office. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there that are genuinely struggling and looking for employment but there are far too many that are not and see a future on welfare as being their God given right. But I digress.
As for me, most of my relatives are Geordies whose immediate ancestors moved over from Ireland. My Father eventually retired to France and one of my brothers and one of my sisters have emigrated to Australia. My sister in law originally hailed from Portugal and I myself can likely trace my heritage back, as can we all, to, well…Africa. So yes, I guess I owe a lot to migration and in fact without it we would not be the diverse bacterially resistant animals we are today. We need migration, we need change and we need to be open to embracing and including other cultures. Our language, diet, art, history and in fact all that we are, owes itself to a multitude of other country’s cultures and influences.
Maybe the English mindset towards migration and refugees is borne from our disappointment at having lost this ‘Great Empire’ of ours but then it should be remembered that this too was acquired with war and the forcing of poverty, and more, on others.
I’m not professing to be an all embracing all welcoming perfect human being. Like others, I am far from perfect but I do think that we as a nation need to look at ourselves a bit more honestly before we start throwing stones at others. We are more than happy to wear the T shirts made by a young girl working long hours for little money living in unsafe conditions in a faraway land but when that same girl suggests she’d like to come over here to improve her standard of living we suddenly pick up pitch forks (made in India) and torches (made in China) and murmur and grumble about how this threatens our ‘strong British values.’
We are all of us standing on a small spherical island protected only by a thin atmosphere as it hurtles uncontrollably through a deadly void that we call outer space. Perhaps if people stopped to think about how insignificant we all are in the big scheme of things once in a while then maybe they could give their hatred a day off and instead get on with the important job of living their fleeting lives instead.
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