I read articles about the Italian village thriving because of migrants: “Refugees bring dying Italy village back to life” by Fanny Carrier from AFP.
There is a photo with the caption “Migrants from Senegal and Niger joke with the waitress in the main bar of Sant' Alessio in Aspromonte, a small village of 330 inhabitants in Calabria”
The piece starts with “In the foothills of the Aspromonte mountains in southern Italy, the silence of a once-dying village is broken by the laughter of a small group of refugees.” It goes on giving information about the project and tells the remark of an elderly man: "They behave well. They live independent lives but often lend a helping hand."
“Sitting in the sunshine and watching the world go by from his front garden, 89-year old Antonio Sacca -- who spent 54 years working in a Turin factory before returning home -- says he likes his new neighbours.”
I read the French opening up their chateau... “French village opens its chateau as home from home for refugees” on UNHCR website by Céline Schmitt.
Gerard Dubois, the mayor of Pessat-Villeneuve, the small village in central France says “Hatred is noisy. Solidarity is quiet but inspiring and effective.”
Then I read the comments. Some people mention how awful it has become in Australia, that there are Sudanese gangs on the beaches in daylight etc. Then, of course, there are those pieces in certain newspapers tarring refugees and migrants, calling them cockroaches, talking about being swarmed, telling how they bring diseases, they rape, they steal etc.
I understand the well-meaning efforts of UNHCR and others trying to paint all refugees/migrants as contributors to society. But why can't they be objective and say that there are bad ones too?
Don't get me wrong. I just love the picture that these stories portray:
“The village is currently home to an Iraqi Kurdish family, a Gambian couple with a baby and young people from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.” I love this idea of people from so different places coming together.
Then you read this:
“There is a special project for the most vulnerable, including HIV-positive people, diabetics, victims of prostitution networks, a deaf and dumb couple, and a young woman whose toddler son was shot dead in Libya and husband is feared drowned.”
And you are once again reminded of all the things people are going through. You feel you need to lend a hand.
Gerard Dubois even received death threats after proposing to open up the chateau owned by the town council to refugees. He says “I would have resigned if the decision to open the accommodation centre had been ‘no’.”
I admire such people with such integrity, and I am very glad to know of their existence in this world.
On the other hand, I also understand the people objecting to migrants, being afraid etc. But why can't they accept it's not every migrant who is bad? Why can't they understand even if the situation is so it's our society and conditions that forces, or okay, let me not even say force- but is a trigger to these acts?
In any group, it's obvious that there are going to be the bad ones and the good ones. Why can't any side be neutral and true to reality?
I understand, we all want to confirm our biases whenever we read something. Still... Why can't we just be objective?
Why do we have to beautify or beastify? Of course, if you want to generalize, it's better to paint people with the same brush instead of tainting them with the same brush. But in the end, people are people. We are all the same. Good and bad.