Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture
2015-09-15 15:41:22 -
World News

The World At Home


Last time I asked if you could imagine what it is like to travel 1,200km by foot from Syria to Turkey and then, if you survived a dangerous boat ride across several miles of open water, face another 2,500km of illegal border crossings in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria to get to Germany? Now I have another question. Can you imagine what it must be like to helplessly watch your wife and two young boys drown after the captain of your dangerously overloaded dinghy jumps overboard and the boat capsizes?


Over the past few months I’ve become progressively more disgusted by the selfish stance of many European and North American politicians, and the citizens who elected them, towards the humanitarian crisis that’s been gathering steam throughout the Mediterranean region. I have been appalled that so many people in the west have refused to open their arms and homes to these courageous migrants, the vast majority of whom are simply seeking a safe haven for their families rather than merely better economic opportunities.


I discussed the longterm economic benefits that come about thanks to immigration, and why most European countries need more, not fewer, migrants in order to offset the effect of low fertility rates among their citizens. I tried to show how shortsighted opponents of immigration were by noting how Russia and Japan had been crippled by the effects of declining populations. But as I write this, I am no longer disgusted or appalled by our nations’ collective lack of responsibility and gross mistreatment of these poor refugees. I’m angry. Very angry.


It has often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of young Aylan Kurdi, if the picture of that little boy’s lifeless body lying face down in the sand of a Turkish beach does not break your heart and bring tears to your eyes, then I would argue that you don’t really have a heart. If the image of waves lapping against Aylan’s tiny body doesn’t give you cause to do some serious soul-searching, then you must not have a soul. If that image does not spur some serious changes in how our countries deal with migrants, then nothing will.


The real tragedy here is that little Aylan would have never had to take the boat trip that led to his drowning if our western governments’ had decided to adopt more prudent and humanitarian ways of handling the current mass exodus of refugees. Bloodthirsty Daesh terrorists have forced most of them to flee their homes and give up all of their possessions. But instead of admiring them for giving up all they own for the sake of their families’ and children’s safety, we are treating them like criminals trying to steal our jobs.


Steal what? Some dirty low-wage job that our own citizens won’t take, but financially desperate immigrants are more than happy to have? While nativist politicians in Europe, and America’s own bag of hot air Trump, blame immigrants for everything from unemployment to crime to shortages of housing and social services, these claims are patently false. Numerous research studies over the past 50 years have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the economic impact of immigrants is decidedly positive for both immigrants and native citizens.


The current migrant crisis is an outgrowth of economic, educational and security conditions that those of us living in Europe and North America either wish to ignore or attempt to evade responsibility for. But I argue that regardless of what our elected politicians and governments chose to do – or not do– to alleviate the suffering of these poor migrants, we have a personal responsibility to do our part to help them. We can do our part by calling or writing to our elected officials and demanding that our leaders accept at least 10,000 migrants.


We can also do our part on a more personal level by donating money to organisations that are working to help these refugees like Médecins Sans Frontiérs, the International Red Cross and Unicef, as well as organisations specifically devoted to the migrant crisis such as Migrant Offshore Aid Station. In lieu of money, you could sign up with Refugees Welcome to share your home with migrants or donate supplies such as musical instruments to Music Against Borders or drop supplies off at donation sites for Calais People to People Solidarity or Calais Action.


But regardless of whether you lobby your government or donate supplies or money, please do something. For my part, I am donating the equivalent of €3 a day to several of the aforementioned relief organisations. I am doing so because I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I am at least doing something to alleviate these migrants’ suffering. I am also doing this because I believe if we all start now to do our part, then maybe Aylan Kurdi’s death was not in vain. So please do your part to make life better for all of the world’s refugees.



Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.

TAGS : Syria Migrant Crisis Refugee Crisis Music Against Borders Donate Unicef
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