At the age of 16, I learnt what it was like to live without my parents in close proximity, and what I considered then to be a hindrance to my emotional understanding of the world, can now take partial responsibility for who I am today. Although the experience gave me the freedom to lay some new stones for my path, my decisions on where to place these stones were heavily affected by the two humans who had led to my existence. Thankfully, my parents were bitten by the travel bug from a reasonably young age, leading them to explore and feed their curiosity for alternative cultures. This restlessness initially lead them from England and Wales to Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, settling eventually in the South of France, with short intervals to Belgium. Myself, being born in Wales, jumped from various locations across England, France and the Netherlands. This independent exploration has essentially fine-tuned my understanding and appreciation for the multicultural essence that rightfully exists in our world. I was always brought up to embrace difference, explore change and celebrate the odd and weirdly wonderful. As a result of this, it feels extremely unnatural to feel a sense of ‘belonging’ when inhabiting a specific place. I have rarely experienced a sense of entitlement, leading me to protect what I understand to be ‘rightfully mine’ – because of this, I suppose that the feeling of threat of this perceived ‘other’ is also absent.
Witnessing the hasty exit of England from the EU, has got to be one of the most surreal moments of my adult life – especially as I write this as an expat, immigrant, foreigner other, outsider – whatever the Daily Mail is choosing to label me as that day. Whilst I can painstakingly empathise and dryly swallow a fraction of the justifications of some individuals who chose to vote to leave the EU, I can’t help but feel heavily disappointed and disenchanted with my country and the regrettable decision. Due to three years of studying the British press, I am able to reasonably understand how dominating and exploitative the media has been in this viscous public propaganda scheme. However, this does not come close to repairing the hurt that sits heavy in my heart. To put it frankly, I can only interpret the ‘Brexit’ as a transparent representation of our volunteering to destroy a nation’s tolerance and understanding. A nation whose foundation is built upon multiculturalism itself. Considering the number of individuals who voted to leave the EU related their vote off of the back of the refugee crisis, I feel that our global family is becoming more exposed to a dangerous, yet stern message that we do not intend to help those in dire need. However, the contention that concerns me the most, are the attitudes being provided with a platform through various social networks, spewing an endless tirade of hate speech – hate speech which is most often based on pure fear and prejudice.
I have witnessed just how beautifully open the human soul can be, when I visited the Calais refugee camp and experienced first-hand how overwhelming the support was. However, this support is a slow blossoming flower that requires a lot of attention from those that selflessly give to it on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, this blossom is being damaged by a selection of perpetrators who spread their poison hard and fast by irresponsibly sharing their destructive judgements. Thus, I choose to use the same platform to encourage you all to use your voice in the compassionate manner in which it was intended and is now desperately required. I am discouraged of how we as a society are continuously treating individuals as ‘the other’. I am disgusted with our severe lack of empathy. It is a shameful ability that we have in being able to turn our backs at lightning speed on these human beings. Whilst these displaced individuals are not provided with the opportunity to have a voice (something that we hugely take for granted at times), I believe that it is our responsibility as fellow human beings to stand in support for them. We need to use our collective intelligence to look past the misbehaving minority who are providing a bad name for misplaced individuals and search for those who truly need our support.
These detached representations of suffering that we see plastered on the front of the morning newspaper of humans covered in dirt from an explosion or painfully crying, yearning for a place to call home, these humans that we gawp at whilst sipping from a cardboard coffee cup, are real, they are existing and often they feeling nothing but uncertainty and unease – their stones being constantly displaced by the inaction of men today. Personally, I find it very difficult to switch off from this and I am starting to think that there is a reason for this.
It all begins with an attitude and eventually this attitude will develop into opinion. It is never too late to share the lesson and encourage others to learn acceptance and tolerance before poisonous opinion is unleashed, becoming untamable.