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FRAMING REFUGEE POLICY January 10, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights.
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I am looking for wider debate and discussion on the refugee question. For example, why punish refugees, if the purpose is to punish those who profit from organizing their trips? Dehumanization of people in desperate circumstances is a start of an inevitable sequence of violence, including the mistreatment  of young children and their mothers. The urge to finds more creative solutions leads from a “pacific” solution to necessary cruelty.

We are collectively and individually responsible for how refugees are treated, otherwise any notion of democratic citizenship has in effect become meaningless. The concept of the fair go extends to all, especially for people caught up violent conflict, that often have origins in Imperialism, past and present. We might too remember that economic motivation, seeking a better life with opportunism, explains much .of our forebears courageous adventurism in coming to the distant south land on a one way ticket, and often with the young dying in passage. I honour the memory of my direct ancestor, Sarah, one of many, who died before her first birthday in a new colony.

I was chatting with my neighbour, before she quite rightly asked me to leave after overstaying my time. One of the subjects was a recent murder that occurred in our street, around the corner and down the hill. A man and women lived in a s house, and the man had killed, it appears, his sister. So it was a very tragic circumstance. I don’t remember ever meeting the people involved. It was reported that they were known to the police, and the suggestion was that both people were experiencing mental health problems. My neighbour made, what to me, was an interesting comment relating that her parents had asked whether she was safe. My sense was she this feeling was existential, while I remained detached.

Imagine, if these individuals had been refugees. Whatever fears that may exist would have been evoked and exacerbated by the refugee story that has been plugged into our minds. This shows to me the viciousness of scapegoating. with its historical resonances and examples.. We have to acknowledge our vulnerability to the power of stories, and the danger of the single story. That susceptibility will vary. Strangers, those not like us, may create fear or envy.We have to identify our individual fears and anxieties and not project them onto categories of people which we can turn away into the wilderness or ritually sacrifice (like the pathetic leadership of North Korea, but are we, in relation to refugees any better?). If we don’t, we not only degrade the other, we diminish, and possibly extinguish our own humanity with a predisposition to greater violence.

In other words, idiotic slogans such as “stop the boats’ becomes policy. “Idiotic” because such a policy, albeit in large measure bipartisan, is ignorant, short-sighted, inhuman and by any dispassionate analysis, can’t work.. “Success” only serves to degrade what we value about ourselves and our human communities.Is that even politic? Sure acknowledge the full multi-dimensional problem from the source to its’s development, and then design policies that address the reality, not political fiction.. Let us remember, it is always about us, not just them, and more is involved that the people smugglers.

Why is it that brutality is seen as strength, whereas experience suggests, and the study of human growth and development strongly supports the contention that it is love that creates resilience? The latter, of course, requires a disciplined practice and challenge to use our human gifts to the fullest,  and to counter the sources within of fear, anger, hatred and a possible tendency to reinforce and rationalize prejudices. We make fundamental choices and we are fated to live with the results. Wisdom in responsibility may counsel foresight joined with compassion.

By chance, I happened upon a quote from the historian Arnold Toynbee from A Study of History:

We have said that primitive societies are as old as the human race, but we should more properly have said they are older. Social and institutional life of a kind is found among some of the higher mammals, other than man, and it is clear that mankind could not have become human except in a social environment. The mutations of the sub human into man . . .

The thought occurs that the assumption is that our humanity lies in our technology without any appreciation of means and ends. Such a consideration would, of course, be totally irrelevant to the wider environmental crisis we face that questions human survival, or refugee policy. Let us assume, foolishly or otherwise, that our cultural conditioning is superior in power and effect without regard to foreseeable consequences. Stupidity does not need to be understood in retrospect and can be all too understandable,

Connecting the dots, I strongly suspect the refugee policy is increasing maw of the sacrificial system.That is a path we should not tread, regardless of closing doors and defending maritime borders against human decency in in the process of which judicial procedure and the semblance of justice is excised to be denied while violence in every aspect is unleashed. Deniability is but a frail fig leaf. Our humanity, individual and collective is the only source of our strength and purpose. Humane consideration should govern public policy. To do so might well be the signature of civilization be it described as  Hellenistic, Christian, Medieval, and looking beyond the narrow and peculiar geographic confinement to Hindu and others, or combinations, diffusion and combinations of human ingenuity and wisdom, including the ancient wisdom from our tribal past and present.

What do I know?

This Rabbi might have hit on the proverbial “barbecue stopper”:

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