Doing the Right and Just Thing
I am fuming again! It's this latest “deal” of the EU with Turkey. They're going to get one Syrian refugee for every migrant Turkey gets back from Greece! What kind of a cretinish deal is this? I mean I'm sorry but theeese are the people governing us?? Is that what they sit and talk about for 12 hours? Their flights, food and accommodation all paid by us?? Seriously??! I cannot put enough question marks and exclamation marks here. That's why I stopped.
The UNHRC said it had doubts etc. What doubts? That this deal would be violating the current laws. Seriously... Okay, I get it, these are the rules you've agreed to play by but throw them all aside. Seriously... Nobody has an obligation to shelter anybody...
What nobody? There is no body here, no person, it's a governing body....
Okay. No governing body has an obligation to shelter anybody. But seriously... The main point here is that: No governing body has a right to block people from moving someplace on the earth they were born! Just let people go!
“I agree but it's not so easy,” said my husband.
“It is!” I retorted. I know of course, that there'd be chaos, people would protest. Let hell break loose! Please! It is hell the way it is. I mean not for us, but it is a much unnecessary and unacceptable hell for many.
“A completely different approach is needed in Europe,” someone wrote in an article. Yes! That's so completely right. A completely different approach is needed indeed! Not just in Europe, all over the world!
An approach that apparently doesn't come to the mind of any leader: Which is just opening... I shouldn't be saying “opening” because I believe that they do not have a right to “close” borders in the first place, or even set up borders as blockage of people in the zeroth incipient place, so I should say “removing” the borders as barriers of movement.
Take Back Your Word
Or the second best alternative is for them to take their word back. Oh governments... Just own up to what you really wish and dare to, be courageous enough to contradict and confront the established order.
In my “Oh People... Stay Put Wherever You Are” I had written:
Nobody has to help anybody. There is no such obligation. Who made these countries sign this refugee convention? Did they sign at gunpoint? They set up the rules and laws, then they don't like it, they want to walk around it when they don't feel like abiding by it. First they tie themselves up, then they agonize. -The conditions they set for the refugees are preposterous as well. “Oh if you make it to Europe alive we consider your refugee status, otherwise if you get caught in international waters we sink your boat or send you back. We send you back too if we don't see your status fit.” Instead of squirming, let them take their signatures back! Nobody should have an obligation to help those fleeing war. But Nobody should have the right to block anybody from going anywhere on the world they were born! People should be able to move freely on the world they were born. The contrary is against human nature, it's an insult on human dignity.
If they want, seriously, they should just remove their signatures. Take back your word dear signatories.
Ah okay. They cannot do that. They cannot just remove their signatures, they cannot renounce the treaty officially. They do not have the guts, if I may say so. How would they look in front of the international community? There'd be a political cost of it. A dear cost. So, what do they do? They try to get around it! Seriously?! It should be us “citizens” who should try to get around the laws they have put in place. In fact, that's what those poor refugees and migrants are trying to do. And the governments who cannot cope with the influx, what do they do? They pay. They pay to keep these people away. Yeah, money talks in our world. The rich ones can buy their comfort and freedom from “nuisance”, or at least they think they can. He who pays the piper plays the tune. Thing is, we, as the people, are paying for the piper that the governments play. They make a mess of it, so what, right?
Kılıçdaroğlu, the main opposition party leader in Turkey criticized the deal and said “We pay the money, they take the refugees.”
Ah, my first reaction is “Yes, go at it. Nicely put.” But is it really? It's horribly put! But it shows what's wrong with this “deal.” It is treating people as unwanted goods! Just like we dump our junk into the backyard in the “third-world” countries, we want to do the same with people. We, sorry, politicians treat them as junk! They choose the good ones, the “worthy” or “deserving” ones. Worst yet, they treat people as bargaining chips! Bargain for money, bargain for joining the club. I'm sorry, I grew up in a bargaining culture, I'm very much used to it, it was like second nature to me most of my life, even though I now try to avoid it I see it as a natural part of life... BUT, to use people as bargain material is disgusting.
Ah, this “deal” is hailed as a solution to irregular immigration.
It dawned on me when I went to bed that night: These people are control freaks! And I thought I was one myself. Don't take that too seriously. I go nowhere near these people's obsession with control! Everybody needs a sense of control in this life we don't know what's going to happen the next moment. We like being in control. We need the feeling of being in control. It's perfectly natural. But this (!), this trying to restrict people's movement, trying to designate their every step is NOT natural. It's INSANE!
I know some people will call me insane now. Even the suggestion of such a thing as letting everyone move around freely, lifting visa requirements is mostly found outrageous. The trouble is, I find the contrary outrageous!
These people have got power somehow and they are playing with people's lives, moving people around as if they are pawns on a chessboard! Okay, I understand, politics is very much like chess, you calculate your every move. But wake up! This is not a game you are playing. The possibility that life may be a game or a dream itself is irrelevant. In the life we live and experience, people are not pawns. Refugees, migrants are people with their own will too.
Leaders are treating them like herds. Okay, this is a mass situation but still... Masses are made up of individuals. Just because you've got the power and they are helpless doesn't mean you can play with them as you wish. Ah, The Economist says “Every element of the arrangement is politically, legally or morally problematic,” but the conclusion is in the title: “A messy but necessary deal.” So I suppose treating people worse than puppies you pick up by the neck, deporting people that are already displaced by dealing them another kick, is necessary (!)
I am so disappointed at Merkel too. I would have expected better of her. Of course, maybe they know something that I don't. After all, I have no experience or knowledge of how to govern people. I wouldn't want to govern anybody apart from myself. I don't even want to govern my four year-old daughter. But some people believe that society needs to be governed. And that's what politicians are up to. Governing people is their profession.
Maybe I shouldn't interfere in their area of expertise. Still, as an individual of humanity (or what is left of it), I feel compelled to express my thoughts. Going back to my daughter... Sure, sometimes some measures need to be taken in order to have order and peace in the house, and I'm not saying governments should not register and try to have an idea of what's going on in the territories they are responsible for, but this, what they are doing is overkill.
Grim Day and the Opportunity to Change the Rules of the Game
John Dalhuisen, Europe director for Amnesty International said “It’s a really grim day and it’s a really grim deal. It’s being celebrated by people who are dancing on the grave of refugee protection, who want to enforce Fortress Europe and who don’t want these refugees in our countries.”
“The grave of refugee protection...” Not a bad definition. To state similarly, we've been dancing on the grave of the right of mobility of human beings for a long time now. When almost all other things in the world -animals, goods, money, pollution etc.- are granted that right.
“If it applied in its absolute sense, then the number of refugees that Europe would take would depend on the number of refugees prepared to risk their lives through other means – and that is staring at a moral abyss,” he went on.
True. But again, fails just a bit short. Mr. Dalhuisen, along with many other people should take a couple of more steps to arrive at the door of The Just Thing To Do and give everybody the right to move as they wish, regardless of the imaginary line they were born in. The way things are, we've been staring at a moral abyss for a long long, far too long time now. It's got to stop. And this is the opportunity to seize.
Dreamer or Not
Upon reading the above, my husband warned me that if I did not acknowledge the complexity of removing barriers and the difficulties that would arise in practice, people would think “Oh, another dreamer.” He was going on “And it's good to be a dreamer...”
I interrupted him. “I'm not a dreamer. To the contrary, I am very realistic. I know very well that this is not going to be happening. Not now, probably not even in my lifetime. But I'd like to stretch the minds of people. Otherwise, if everybody keeps on talking at this level, there is no way, no hope of things changing. Ever!”
He added that my discourse would be interpreted like saying “Let's love each other and everything's going to be fine.” To the contrary... I've written it... I loath people. To the point that I call myself a misanthrope. Or let's say borderline misanthrope. But that doesn't give me the right to treat people bad, to harm them. Or even to treat them unjustly for my own sake.
My husband said what I advocate, i.e. removing borders as barriers of movement, was all good in theory. He understood the philosophizing part, but he thought of the practical situation. People scared of migrants probably needed some answers on how to handle the whole issue. “You have to deal with the migrants coming into your country somehow. They cannot come to your neighborhood and live on the streets, they need a place to stay, they need food, otherwise you'll have dead bodies around you, here, instead of the beach in Bodrum. That is not much different,” he said. “And you need money for these things.”
“There are already many people, many organizations working on helping migrants, there is already a huge amount of money being poured in!” I cried out. “Instead of this, you can just spend the money on something beneficial, on integrating these people. What's more, you make these people spend or rather waste money. Instead of using their money to pay smugglers, migrants could use it to live properly in the place they migrate to. If things didn't work out in the first place they went, they could even decide to move somewhere else since they would not have depleted all their resources. You first create this totally unnecessary and totally unacceptable situation, then prefer to spend money and energy trying to sort it out or put patches on the problem. You add to the problem and try to solve a double problem rather than solving the only existent problem. Are you stupid? I mean is every politician so stupid?”
“Their agenda is set on their own survival as politicians. They fear, they need votes,” was my husband's answer.
No no... This cannot be real. Such an illogical thing cannot be real. This is a surreal world. As my husband said, I must be dreaming. I should pinch myself.
Living With the Consequences of Doing the Just Thing
We may have the power but that does not give us the right to make other people learn to deal with the consequences of our actions. If there is a burden, the burden is on us. The burden is on us not because we are more prosperous but because we need to do the right and just thing. And if doing the right and just thing has a bad consequence for us, I'm sorry, we bear it. We face the consequences.
You deal with migration. We deal with it. We are not the masters of the universe even though we believe we are the most wonderful animal on earth because we have built skyscrapers, we have built metal birds that fly, we understand a bit how nature works and we know how to split the atom... Still, we deal with it. We have the resources and the capacity to deal with it. I know, some people do not believe that. If we cannot deal with it, we live with it. We learn to live with it. (Haven't you heard of “If it doesn't kill you, it just makes you stronger.” Oh I know, now some people will claim we're going to be flooded with terrorists and then wiped out. Someone with the nickname Suchindranath, commenting on The Economist said “Mark my words.” So here I am, marking his words. He wrote: “Turkey will stem the Islamic invasion until it becomes part of the EU and then take over Europe with 75 Millions Sunni Terrorists!” I'd find this appalling and take it as an insult if it wasn't so ridiculously funny. First of all, not everybody in Turkey is Sunni. Second of all, not every Sunni is a believer even if it writes so on our IDs. Third of all, not every believer is a practicing Muslim. Fourth of all, the vast majority of believers and practicing Muslims are not terrorists. Fifth of all, I came from Turkey into the EU by way of marriage. There are many other Turkish already in Europe. Just like there are millions of Muslims from other countries already in the EU. As far as I know, we haven't blown anybody up. And no, we don't plan to. And those who plan such acts would have many methods to go around the barriers you erect, you can be sure of that. For further analysis please see "On Going Down the Gutter." If you want to argue about Cologne and other news, please refer to the following paragraphs.)
We are humans, we learn to live with everything. We learn to live with the pain of losing our child; we learn to live with cancer and all other types of diseases; we learn to live not only with the symptoms of these diseases but also with the setbacks, the inconveniences that their treatment brings into our lives; we learn to live with big accidents and their consequences; we learn to live with natural disasters and their consequences; we learn to live with bullies in our lives; we learn to live in wartimes, in warzones, in camps, in makeshift huts, in the mud, under the scourging sun, under the soaking rain, under the freezing snow. These people have learnt to live with being driven out of their homes, with being treated as dirt or as inferior... We either learn to live with all the things life throws at us, or simply live with them. We are human beings, yes, some do not learn to live with some things, some cannot cope with living with the cards life deals them and give up, but we are mostly resilient and have a strong will to survive and live even under very dire conditions.
We deal with mass migration the way we deal with life and whatever life throws at us. The migrants - whom you expose to every type of hardship, whom you cannot decide how to torture - they say "We will find a way," and we/you, sitting in your nice couches, cannot say "We will deal with mass migration"?! Shame on you. It's a crying shame.: such leaders.
The caption under this photo reads:
“How many days does poverty last father?”
“40 days my son.”
“Would we be rich after 40 days?”
“No son. We'd get used to it...”
We'd get used to mass migration too. If necessary, we learn to live with it. We live with impossible family members for God's sake! We may choose not to talk to them, but there is always the blood connection whether we like it or not. So we may choose to ignore the migrants, but we may live in proximity whether we like it or not.
I don't believe in the doomsday scenarios of Middle Easterners flooding Europe and turning the wealthy developed Western way of life into a shithole. All the while, I believe every fear is valid and legitimate; fears being fears, they do not need to be grounded. Even if it is to be so, even if the fears of some people turn into reality with the removal of visas... The bottom line is this:
We should not, we do not have the right to, make the weak suffer unnecessarily because of our fears and just because we have the power and we can. Yes, we have the possibility to shirk our fears by devising visa practices, by building walls, by police force, by paying bribes etc. but we shouldn't be doing it. Because it puts a very unjust burden and leads to unacceptable suffering of those whose only “crime” is having been born in a certain geographical part of the world. Just because it's not our lives, we cannot shut our eyes to these wasted lives. Migrants are not the ones who should be learning to live or having to live with the consequences of unjust decisions and political maneuvers of governing bodies. If there is to be a price to pay, if there is to be a burden to bear at all... It should be on us. We should be the ones learning to live with the consequences of doing the right and just thing.
I'm sorry folks...
Sincerely and wishing the best for all.
Signed: Your conscience.
Writing this piece I didn't know how to use the plural personal pronouns. We, you, they... Who are the "we", "you", "they"? It depends on the "I". Talking about this EU-Turkey deal am I the Turkey as I am originally born in İstanbul and I am a Turkish citizen OR am I the EU as I am now an Italian citizen as well and I live in Italy? When I talk about the leaders, I should be talking as "we" since they are officially representing me. BUT they are acting in complete opposition to almost every core belief I hold. Under the conditions, how can I identify with them and say "we"? Okay, I set apart the politicians, what about the population of Turkey and EU? There are so many among them that I cannot identify with at all. In fact, most of my beliefs and ways of seeing are in complete opposition to some of them too. So how can I talk as "we" for the community I live in? Coming to the refugees and migrants who are the subject of this discussion... Even though I may say I have a nomadic soul, I have no common heritage or background with the refugees/migrants in question. I am not Middle Eastern, I do not speak Arabic, I am European looking, my religion is never an issue, I am not poor, I am educated and skilled even though I am not in the workforce. I am not driven from my home, I live in peace and relative prosperity. In short, I have nothing in common with the refugees/migrants who draw the limelight of hate from certain groups. BUT I am defending them, i.e. I am on their side.
So who am I supposed to call "we" as a group? I need to specify so that I can determine the "you" and "they". The only way to get out of this dilemma is to go to the highest level of identity: That we are all humans. As all other identities blur, what do borders serve?