Take a moment to look at your child, your niece or nephew, your friend’s little ones. Look hard at them. Feel the absolute overwhelming love in your body, the all consuming love, the burning desire to keep them safe from danger above all else.
Now imagine loading them up in the dead of night onto a jammed full ricketty old boat with no belongings and no food, setting out into the violent oceans with no idea how long you’ll be afloat and whether you’ll ever see land.
Terrified faces, crying. Hungry. Soaking wet and confused. All they want is a warm bed and a teddy bear, some milk and a biscuit, much like your own child at night time.
Now imagine the boat is taking on water. The screams, the panic. Your child, who has no idea what is going on nor why they are in this havoc, is crying out for you and screaming in fear, the boat starts to go down. People are jumping into that black water filled with who knows what, thrashing around in the oceans violence, using what little energy they have left to cry out for help that will never, ever come.
And your child succumbs. The water is too deep and the current too strong, the waves to viscous and the temperature too cold.
Their body is washed ashore, still in the last nappy you would ever use, the last outfit you would ever dress them in, and a photograph is taken. Their cold, lifeless, limp and broken body washed ashore like a piece of driftwood.
Then think about what comments people would be publicly saying about it.
They’re calling your child vermin. They’re saying “good riddance”. They’re hoping that all the other boat loads of all the other families and children meet the same fate. They’re saying you were stupid for taking the risk. They’re blaming you for your child’s death. They’re calling you part of a swarm that needs to be eradicated.
You’re crying for help and all around your doors are being slammed in your dead baby’s face.
Think about it. Really, really think about it.
What would it take for you to put your own baby on that boat? What of life’s great challenges would you need to be facing to flee in the dead of night, get to the coast, and climb aboard a ricketty boat with your terrified and crying baby in your arms, because THAT life is better than the one you’re leaving behind? What would need to be going on in your world so that your child facing a potential hideous and painful death is a better option than staying?
These people at Calais and across Europe are just that, people. They’re not vermin or rodents or insects. They’re not a different breed or species. They’re people. They’re parents and children. They want a cup of tea with a friend and a chat. They want to kick a ball around in the grass. They want to play with a tea set and hand their mums an imaginary phone. They want a cuddle and a kiss before settling down into their comfy bed at night. They want all the things we want, just a normal life. Just a life.
Instead they’ve got this. This horror where they’re not only desperately needing help from a fellow human, but they’re being treated like cockroaches for asking.
What would it take for you to be a refugee?
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!