Don’t shut the door: receive the refugee

The flow of refugees into Europe continues, partly as a result of the ongoing war, the fear that more doors into Europe will shut and the oncoming winter which will make the journey much harder and the sea journey nearly impossible.

As a result, some are finding increasingly inventive ways of entering Europe in search of a normal life, which as one man from Kabul put it is a place without “bomb explosions.” Which sounds reasonable enough.

Despite the warm welcome many received a month or so ago the politics of compassion with regard to those who share neither language, culture nor values it’s unlikely to last. As this article on altruism and asylum seeking points out the important question is:

How much good are you willing to do for a stranger, and at what potential cost to yourself?

Cut adrift from their historical mooring points of the Christian faith, an individualistic society is likely to be short on willingness to seriously sacrifice. The challenge of the current equation is difficult because people are being asked to weigh up compassion to those needing help now against the potential damage to a society a generation on from now. In our age of political short-termism, we’re not very good at that.

It’s getting tougher to be an asylum seeker into Europe, despite our riches there is a politics and economics of austerity in the continent and that will affect new arrivals.

Yet despite all this they come and who can blame them? The prospect for many on their children missing out on all their education, with diminishing prospects for work, with no hope for living in peace or work and on top of all that avoiding the insecurity and violence of living in camps and the even worse risk of war, they do what all of us would do – they move, and they take their phones with them.

In other news, we have a Syrian family living in our home. We know why they’re here. They’re welcome.

Photo by Rasande Tyskar

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