THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis
So, over the last few weeks, I have been following the migrant crisis in Calais. Pictures of men climbing fences and trying to clamber onto lorries causes a mixture of feelings. On the one hand, I am annoyed they’re trying to come here, when we have our own problems with money, jobs and housing. On the other hand, I am sympathetic, feeling that they must have come from awful situations to be risking their lives to get here. Then I think, on the other hand (I know, too many hands, but you know what I’m saying) if they are in France, why not stay there? It’s not a danger zone so why keep trying to get here? And then that gets me thinking about benefits and the unfairness of it all blocks out any other feelings.
The failure of those in authority to do little more than mend a few fences causes anger and frustration. There is a lot of unfairness involved with this issue and the feeling towards migrants is hostility. You only have to look at some of the posts on Facebook to see that.
When I hear that a boat full of migrants has sunk in the Mediterranean, with lives lost, I respond in a number of ways. At first, I am sad that people have died, thinking how awful it is...then I think that at least now there are fewer people for the designated country to deal with, which I know sounds dreadful. The press play a part in this blasé thinking, with their “Oh, they’re only migrants, never mind...” mentality by always referring to them as migrants, not men, women and children.
I feel guilty for thinking such terrible thoughts and then angry that someone somewhere has orchestrated events, putting people on boats that are dangerously overcrowded and making money from this practice.
The crisis in Kos challenged my thinking …seeing pictures of children, smiling, being carried off the boats. Whenever I thought of migrants, I thought of hardened men, determined to make it, breaking laws to get somewhere...it hadn’t occurred to me that they were families just like mine
I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to flee your homeland because of persecution...as a Christian, I am privileged to live in a country where I am free to worship the God of my choice...Christians in Syria and other countries do not have this luxury and are being driven out, raped or killed. If I was them, I would want to know that there was somewhere I could go, a place of safety.
This is the real problem with migrants...that nothing is clear cut and every case is different. Some are genuinely running for their lives- the terrible irony is that these people are often sent back, denied help, while others sneak in and manage to claim benefits that they then send back to their family in their country of origin.
It’s difficult to feel compassion when people play the system...but then if the system can be used and abused in this way, then maybe the problem isn’t with migrants at all...