I have no words I can use in this blog post that even begin to describe the frustration I feel while listening to the politicians debating what to do with refugees. If I had to run from harm, or for any other reason, with my children I hope I will meet people with kindness in their heart.
I had doubts whether I should write about this topic. I don’t know if this is the place for it, if my opinion matters and if it will do anyone any good. I obviously don’t know all the facts and there is probably another side to ‘the story’ that I am not taking into account. There always is.
But I’m so tired of listening to the populists and scaremongers and I realized how good it would be if more people would make themselves heard by writing about how they feel.
So here goes nothing.
The thing is, and I think I speak for many of my fellow Europeans when I say this; I’ve been more ashamed of Europe and being a European than usual. And I’m particularly ashamed of being Dutch. Not that I have ever been a nationalist. Countries are just a construct. Get over it. It just keeps individuals and groups in control of resources.
Now I will not try to give you a history lesson, I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but a little historical context might not be so bad.
Here are just two things I want to say about my tiny countries history:
1) Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, became one of the richest cities in the world when Lisbon (1580) and Antwerp (1585) were conquered by the Spaniards and refugees fled to Amsterdam. The tolerance towards religions turned it into a save haven and as a consequence the city became a melting pot of cultures. It turns out that openness and diversity is a fundamental quality needed for the creation of wealth...
2) The Netherlands also became a very rich country by colonizing… I mean pillaging other countries and enslaving and selling people. This is what funded the building of those beautiful Amsterdam houses and canals.
Yes, there is more to say about this. But it’s true enough and good to keep in mind when we say we do not want to share our wealth and need to keep people out.
Then consider this, European, UK and USA have played a huge role in the history of nations around the world. They carved up the lands, toppled governments and created new ones. Just read about how governments and countries in the Middle East ca.... This is not only ancient history this is happening as we speak. We are still trying to topple governments and create new ones. So guess what, the things we did and do have consequences, really bad ones. Mainly for the people living in the countries we are fighting our wars in (we like to fight our wars as far away as possible. It’s such a messy thing you know) or where people are fighting the wars with our weapons.
With this in mind it is very difficult to listen to politicians shout about how we should defend our Christian nations & values. It is difficult to read in the newspaper that a quarter of the Dutch people want to close our borders.
Our actions have consequences; we need to take responsibility for them. Or at least we should give a damn.
So it is excruciating to see that we let these refugees, people, families, children, sleep in train stations. That we throw food at them, trip them while they are running, build fences to keep them out, arrest them like criminals, let them drown…
We should rescue them, care for them, give them shelter and ask for their forgiveness. Yes we should.
I could go on, but I won’t… I hope you get what I’m trying to say.
We are tiny creatures living on a small planet hurtling with great speed through an endless universe. We should be so happy to be alive and enjoy this short but amazing ride and live life to the fullest. Yes indeed. But mainly we are preoccupied with carving the sphere up into little territories, start groups and then start being scared of the others groups.
Oh yes, we also call ourselves an intelligent live form.
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