Today, on my way out to Montenegro, I came across George Clooney. He was looking at me bigger than life-size from the wall at Fiumicino Airport. He must have heard I had called out to him. He has to burn his passports along with me, right?
Well... He looked like he kind of agreed with me and the idea. But I got the impression that he needs to think about it a bit more before putting himself on the front line on such a controversial issue. Meanwhile, I am after any other celebrity to join the cause to #EndInjusticeAtBirth and for #FreedomOfMovement
Just to let you know. Get the word out there!
PS: Today is April Fool's Day, but I am of course serious!
As always ;)
“What does your sister do there?” I asked.
I was checking in at the hostel in Podgorica, Montenegro and the guy, learning that I was from Italy, had said her sister lived in Lazio.
“I don't know,” he replied. “House cleaning, looking after the elderly and the sick. What the slaves from the Balkans do.”
“It's true,” I said. “What can I say?”
I really get stuck here. I really do. I mean I do not use such services, I do my own things, but what if I needed someone to take care of me, someone in my family or the house? What do you do when you do not have the people around you? In the end, it all comes down to what Ruskin has said in the Veins of Wealth. The money in your pocket is worthless unless you keep your neighbor poor. But this has to change. It really is a crooked logic. I don't know how, I mean the only logical way out is learning to trust in people and not money. But then again, how do you find those people to trust? Especially in our world. Money seems more reliable.
But then again... There are things money can buy. There are things it cannot.
Every time I go to the supermarket, I lose money. I lose money to some migrant that is standing outside the market. How can I not give when they ask? What else can I do?
The late Demirel, the 9th president of Turkey who was called “father” had said “There was gasoline and we drank it?” in response to his critics of the shortage during the 70's crisis. I say a similar thing on behalf of migrants. Were there jobs and they didn't take it? Was there someone willing to pay for their work and they refused? Or more important of all, were they allowed to work in the first place? Governments usually block their chances of getting a job. So what are they supposed to do?
Yes, and I confess, they are fit-and-able-bodied men, the people I give money to. They are people too you know. Besides, they have wives and children to look after. Today I gave one young guy 10 Euros. Just for the sake of helping, for solidarity. Then another came across the road with some merchandise in his hands. He held out a necklace to me. Not that I am interested in anything. But I wanted to help and it was something Lara would have liked. Colorful. I opened up my wallet. There was a 20 Euro bill. I took it out. The guy handed me a bracelet as well. I didn't object. I got that too. But I was going to buy them. 5 Euros was enough. I asked him to give me back 15 Euros. He said “Please”, he said he had a wife and two children. I said “Why did you have two children?” It wasn't a real question, it was just a memorized rhetoric retort. And I didn't ask it in a bad way, why should he not have made children? He wasn't really begging, he didn't expect anybody else to look after his children. He just relied on the goodness of strangers sometimes. That's something we all need and something we need more of. Especially in this environment of hatred and fear-mongering, we need the kindness of strangers and we need to show kindness to strangers.
I left the money. What could I do? What could I do? This is the least I can do.
Ah, you say “Don't give people hand-outs.”
Okay but I say I am defending them, I am on their side. Donating to an organization who helps migrants or rather refugees is one thing, but I help the ones that I come across personally. Doesn't that make sense?
You say “There are many poor Italians. Italians first.”
Yeah but I don't distinguish people according to their origins. I don't have an affinity to any group of people. I don't have nationalistic feelings. What's more, governments are making life harder than necessary for these people. At least I can make it a bit easier. Italians/Locals do not suffer an extra injustice because of their birthplace. Your people, my people, we suffer from a wrong-classification syndrome:
We are all people.
Some say to me “Ah open borders is nice theoretically; it would be feasible in a world where people were good like you and me, but that's not the case.”
Well... I don't need to answer that argument; Sir Elton John has answered it:
“People are the same wherever you go.
There is good and bad, in everyone...”
If you claim that the words of Elton John are true at the beginning of life, but it changes given a certain cross-section of time and according to a country... I'd say, I might seem like a good person to you while others may seem bad, but that's only because I have not been put in such a dire situation to bring out the worst in me. I have no reason to blow up anybody. I have no reason to kill. I have no reason to steal. I have no reason to resort to swindling or violence. These things I have no reason for. So don't let the politicians, the leaders of the world give anybody reason for these things!
Sure, people are different too wherever you go. We all develop different traits according to our environments and our own nature. People living in scarce environments, living in the heat of Africa cannot be expected to develop the same habits people who live in the harsh winter conditions of Siberia. Your circumstances shape you, naturally. The environment you grow up in shapes you. It's not only being raised in a rich family either. Being raised in a rich family in a poor country or being rich in a rich country is different too. Or vice versa, being poor in a poor country or being poor in a rich country. People in “poor” countries tend to learn to share more, learn to be more grateful etc. When you have everything under your hand, you tend to under-appreciate the small things and are inclined to be discontent. Everything is relative.
“Paese che vai, gente che trovi.” The Italian saying goes. “Country you go to, people you find.”
There are the hard-working Chinese and the lazy Italians as I joke with my husband. There are the punctual Germans and the always late, no-sense-of-time Italians. But these are only generalizations. Just like talking about East and West... These are all sweeping generalizations and stereotypes. It's not wrong, generalizations serve a purpose too; however, the point is not to get too carried away with any generalization and be aware of the limits and misleadings. Be aware of the shortfalls of language; don't let it tell you the biggest lie. Even the northern Italians and southern Italians are different. In the end, we are all individuals with no one matching another in character, values, expectations, beliefs, etc.
Societies and cultures are different but people, on the individual level, are the same. Or rather, same but different. Or different but the same. It's up to our surroundings/our environment to bring out the good or the bad -we all have the good and the bad inside us, it cannot be denied. We also all have the same basic needs and mostly want the same basic things in life. Exceptions do not break the rule.
Then there is the Sufi story where one goes somewhere and finds people to be the same of his reflection...
In short... Feel free to paint everybody with the same brush if you will. But do not taint people with the same brush. It's bad.
PS: “Are people the same or not?” “Are we good or bad?” These are questions that may require deep philosophical discussions as they are too general and vague.
Shall we just go for Depeche Mode, People Are People...?
States are massacring humanity. We need more people like Cedric Herrou to save it.
#HumanityWashedAshore was a trending topic once upon a time. Soon forgotten. We go back to our daily lives. After the first furore subsides.
Aylan's was such a very sterilized photo. Just look at these photos and think for only a fraction of a second how you would feel if they were your babies, your children. Not only babies and children, all the women and men are dying in vain. They die in vain. They die because they were born in the wrong place. You may sneer at this, find it an over-dramatization; you may say “What's life anyway? We live and die; we are already too many on this planet.” But this is not family planning, this is no way to population control. If you want population control let's decide, every 5,000th baby or 50,000th baby, you choose the number, born in any country gets killed. This way it is random. This way it is fair. At least. We all get a share of the bitter pill we see fit for other people than us. Let's see how any of us like that bitter pill!
I asked a friend of mine working in the media if he knew of any journalist who would be interested in my project to go to every country in the world in order to burn my passports to protest injustice at birth and end global apartheid, if any prominent person would pick this up.
He replied: “Burning passports is not an action/protest.”
It is not?! Then what is?
Of course my burning them alone would not be a protest; even though if it was Bill Gates, or George Clooney, or Angelina Jolie or bla bla bla, I suppose that would be worth the news! So basically it comes down to who does it instead of what is done. I believe that is wrong, if something is important it should be important whoever does it or whoever says it; but I also understand, that's how the media works.
Anyway, going back to the point... My burning passports alone would not be a protest, but a hundred thousand people burning passports would be! So the task is to find that crowd. In a world of 7 billion, with migration at the top of the agenda, with so many people suffering from this #GlobalApartheid and #InjusticeAtBirth, it shouldn't be that difficult to find that many people. I mean I know, I have searched the whole wide world to find people who think like me. Not to much avail. There is the openborders.info and a couple of small groups who advocate open borders. There are let's say 300-500 people who express this idea as openly as I do. Yet... I believe, actually I am sure there are so many more out there who think like us but who do not speak up. So the point is how do we get those people to raise their voices? I know it's difficult and dangerous to do such a thing in the current environment when fanatics, fascists, nationalists are on the rise. But somehow it has to be done. I/We need to figure out a way to make these people speak up.
On afterthought... My mind keeps processing words that pass through it. So burning passports is not a protest... Then what is? Should I burn myself instead? Would that do? Oh, I know... Why don't I just find a migrant who is ready to sacrifice himself? I mean they are dying like flies anyway. There should be someone who would be willing to give up his life in advance! I might offer them money, about a 10.000 Euros to help his family would probably do. Or I can tell them I'll be adopting their child. Oh wait, mentioning a child... It would be such a sensation if a woman burnt her child! Wouldn't you agree? Would that make a good enough story for your newspapers? Oh, wait a minute... I know, that would be unethical. To ask anybody to do such a thing. So should I simply burn my own child?? What do you say my dears?
Are you out of your minds? Are you f...king crazy?
So many people have died already because of this #GlobalApartheid. So many are still dying every day. So many people have already gone on hunger strikes, so many people have sewn their lips in protest. There have already been self-immolations in detention centers. And you tell me that burning passports is not a protest and expect something more to carry this argument -against #InjusticeAtBirth, for #FreedomOfMovement- to your newspapers?!
PS: When I told my husband about this, he said “Why do you mention burning your child? Nobody told you to do such a thing.”
“Eh no, I'm not saying that they did. But they say that burning passports is not enough. So what is enough?”
“Okay, so just say 'I'll be burning myself,' or ask 'Should I do like the Tibetan monks or Jan Palack?' That's enough. The image of burning a child is too extreme, it won't be contributing to your cause.”
“Why not?” I asked. I still couldn't understand. “Children are dying too.”
“Yes, you can refer to Aylan.”
“Aylan's was such a sterilized photo, people should look at the real photos if they dare!”
“Okay but why do you need to talk about burning your child? Burning yourself is an act of sacrifice, you are doing it to yourself. Burning someone else is an act of violence.”
! Well, I couldn't disagree more with that statement. Sure, burning someone else is an act of violence. But burning my child would be so much more of a sacrifice for me -or I'd say for any other mother- than burning myself!
My husband had to agree with it. “That's true,” he said.
Of course it is true. I lost one baby, I know what that pain is, burning my child would be the last thing I would do. All people want is to live a simple decent life. That's really not hard, it shouldn't be hard to achieve if we do not act like imbeciles.
“Like Abraham and Isaac,” Carlo went on. “Even though it is not exactly the same.”
No, it's not. But it is always someone asking us for a sacrifice to prove something, be it devotion, be it an expression of the extremity of despair and giving us credit accordingly.
Seriously... Do we really need to sacrifice ourselves, give up our lives or suffer through so much for basic rights as in women's suffrage or fight wars to end injustices like slavery? Do we really need to do this in the 21st century? Have we not civilized a bit at all?
It's so sad to say “We have not.”
PS: To support and be a part of this endeavor, Strike at The Root
They are killing the ability to think, they are killing reason with their extraordinarily stupid laws. We are being dumbed down. They came up with this “security” story and they are selling you the bullshit idea that confiscating your 125 ml of facial cream, 70 ml of milk for your baby is for your own good. I don't know how many tragi-comical hassling incidents go on at airports every single day and I don't want to know.
“Yes, there is very little inside but this is a 125 ml. bottle, you are not allowed.”
“I have a small bottle with me, may I put it in that?”
A power-maniac says “No!” but there is someone in his right mind over there and he says “Yes, you may.” After all, why mayn't you?
You transfer the content to the small bottle and ask to get back the big bottle. The power-maniac again says “No, you cannot take it!” The one in his right mind interferes once more and says “You may take it, it's an empty bottle.” Of course he is aware of the buffoonery. He adds: “Our rules are a bit strange but there is nothing we can do about it.”
What's more, they foist this theatrics on us as “security” and take the money from our pockets, and we meekly say “Baa”! It's mind-blowing.
They are killing humanity with their laws. It's our most basic most fundamental instinct to help when we see someone in need, someone downtrodden. Albeit today we go on with our daily lives with the knowledge that there are many hungry and homeless people out there but at least we are not blithe or indifferent to the ones in front of our very eyes. Well... We do that too in big cities, the beggars, the homeless are taken for granted and we walk by them as if they are invisible.
Friends of ours keep going back and forth to Greek Islands. They said the police warns them constantly: “Don't pick up anybody in your car.” After all, if they do, they will be put on trial for human smuggling. “We have the stick, we have the jails. Dare to not listen to us,” says our “estimable” governments. A Frenchman has been put on trial recently with a charge of up to five years in jail and 30,000 Euro fine. He was helping migrants. "It's not up to me to make a distinction between black and white, people with or without papers. It's not my job. Farming is what I do, my job is feeding people and that's what I do," he said.
“They’re telling people, if you see a black person lying on the side of the road, you have to ask him for his papers before helping him,” he said. “That’s the problem.”
“Our role is to help people overcome danger, and the danger is this border.”
“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!”
“I prefer to be jailed as a free man than to live closing my eyes and plugging my ears.”
Even the prosecutor asked for a lenient sentence of eight months and said that it needs to be suspended “of course.” The goodwill of the man was obvious, he didn't do this for profit. However, the law does not really care much about goodwill. Anyway, the judge turned out to be merciful and Herrou was given a suspended sentence of 3,000 Euro which is a nominal fine given what he faced. Naturally, everybody expected him to be happy about this result and bless his lucky stars. Oh, he announced he was going to object to the verdict. His rationale being “It's very natural for us to do this, I do not accept the penalty.”
Of course I totally agree with everything Herrou says.
We have a duty to not obey unjust laws.
No one has a right to expect decency upon facing indecency.
The prosecutor Jean-Michel Prêtre said “He’s demonstrated a manifest intention to violate the law. One can criticize it, but it’s got to be applied.”
Of course I do not agree with Mr. Prêtre. If a law is unjust, which unfortunately it is very much so in this case. The law has not got to be applied, it has to be changed!
Keep in mind that France’s national motto is “Liberty, equality, fraternity.”
The article “Farmer on Trial Defends Smuggling Migrants: ‘I Am a Frenchman.’” in The New York Times by Adam Nossiter starts with “At times it was hard to know who was on trial, the smuggler or the state.”
Yes, states should be put on trial by us, the people. They are massacring humanity!
Seriously, we are governed by an army of imbeciles without exception. If there was the tiniest bit of brains in one of the UN countries' leaders, one among the 193 would have come up like in the movie “12 Angry Men” and said “Wait a minute friends, what are we doing here? Instead of putting in so much money in the name of fake security, putting money on arms and wars, let's come to our senses and invest the money on people. Let's put people first."
They would say "This world belongs to us all, it's not possible that we float while the other side sinks. Our side will be sinking too sooner or later, we are all in the same boat.”
Whereas they are busy killing humanity, killing logic and reason.