Imagine this. You’re stuck in an impossible situation. The only country you’ve ever known is collapsing before your very eyes. All the basic items you need to survive are suddenly unavailable. People are so desperate toilet paper has more value than money. Money becomes more worthless by the day as inflation registers in the hundreds of percent. Every day is a struggle to survive not just for you but for your children and loved ones.
All your life you’ve been a law abiding citizen but you’ve found yourself a situation where you start to contemplate the unthinkable. You need to leave your home nation to stand any chance of survival but your options are limited. You’re not sure that you would be legally allowed to make your way to a better place because only a few are so lucky.
What would you be willing to do to provide for yourself and your family? Would you be willing to risk a dangerous journey across the open ocean, at the mercy of the elements, in hope that the people at the end of your journey would welcome you and help? Would you rather risk the relative safety and surety of meals in an immigration detention center rather than probable starvation and death in your homeland?
You tell yourself that sneaking into another country is illegal and that’s not the person you are. You’ve heard and read of the hostile views toward your compatriots by the citizens in the land that represents your best hope but what choice do you have? Yes some of those who came before you, after you or are even in the same open pirogue as you could be criminals or even carriers of a deadly disease but all you can see are the hungry faces of your kids or the riots and death in your homeland.
If you can picture this scenario and still spew vile, xenophobic and uncaring rhetoric then you’re more dangerous than the people caught in these circumstances. There’s one word that describes the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others. It’s called empathy and the world would be a much better place if we all followed the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
We all know the politics and economics are complex but ask yourself this one question, if the situation were reversed…
What would you do?