What’s worrying me, in part, is the fact that no one is asking the right questions.
This sudden influx of people from the Middle East and North Africa which we see daily at the moment on tour TVs and newspapers is very concerning. And since it started I’ve had a nagging feeling that there is something not quite right about the way in which it is happening.
Why is this happening now, in the way that it is? Syria has been in a mess for - what is it? - 4 years now, as has Libya. People have been suffering hardship, deprivation and risk of death all along in that time. So why is it that now, all of a sudden, there are all of these people on the move? What’s stirring it up? There is a kind of mass-hysteria in the way this situation is developing, but what started that - or perhaps who started it?
We are all now expected to emote over this and that’s worrying too; in fact the media expect us to emote over pretty much everything these days. Emotional manipulation has become the norm for them and us. I believe we cannot feel true grief for people we are not emotionally close to, have known personally. We can look at death and regret it, or deplore it; we can feel pity for people in difficult situations, but that is not grief. This tendency to public emoting is something that I’ve observed as a growing trend in the years since it first appeared at the death of Lady Diana. Back then, the ‘party line’ was that we were all expected to be grief-stricken. No one was allowed to question that - the few that did manage to raise their voices were drowned out in a mawkish consensus in the media that she was a “saint” and we were all required to agree with that. I had long held a kind of indifferent contempt for the media in general, but that situation alarmed me. For the first time in my life I was scared by what was going on in this collection of countries. That blanket expectation that there can be - there shall be - no alternative point of view is partly what put 6 million Jews in gas chambers.
I feel very sorry for the people who are unwittingly caught up in this current mess, folks living on Lampedusa and Kos and various other places in the Med. It must be a living hell for them at the moment. The only time I’ve been aware of the other side of the coin being addressed in any of the many reports, was when a French woman was interviewed regarding the situation in Calais. Her home - her house and garden - backed onto the area where the “migrants” are living. She was so obviously distressed, fighting back tears, truly stressed out by the circumstances she found herself in. I felt so sorry for her. None of it was her doing and she was powerless to change it. How do you sell a house in such circumstances in order to move away from the situation? Who would buy it?
Most people will understand the need to help those who are in trouble, but there comes a point where helpers are swamped, where hospitality is abused. If a ship were to run aground here on the island, some dark and windy night, I would offer hospitality to the poor souls shipwrecked; a good meal, a warm bed and a hearty breakfast the next day. I would willingly cope with 2 or 3 people in that situation and expect nothing in return. If, on the other hand, I found fifty or more people outside my front door, who had rowed themselves onto the island in a dinghy, all demanding that I feed them, accommodate them and, by the way, give them some of the the contents of my purse, it would be a very different situation. The same applies to countries. No country can readily assimilate so many people all at once.
So what do all these hundreds of thousands of people expect when they get to whichever country it is they’re heading for. How will they support themselves? where will they live? Why is no one asking them that and demanding serious answers. Then there is the scary question of who might be hiding amongst them. It would be so easy at the moment for Daesh to send a few suicide bombers into the heart of Europe and there seems to be no way of anybody checking these people to see if that is happening.
So many questions and no one asking them, which leaves the most important question - why is no one asking?