Migrants and Their Tragedies: Yes We Can Fucking Share

Pope Francis. Love him or hate him, every once in a while he does something rather remarkable. The Catholic Church’s official position on the European migrant crisis has been consistently impressive. From an initial plea to Europe to get off their asses and handle this human tragedy to—just last week—calling on every European church and community to take in one family, the Pope is reminding Europe that humanity is contingent upon how we help one another reclaim stability amid calamity.

Europe has been through this before. They’ve witnessed both sides of this issue: Genocide and the ensuing migration that genocide begets. The final (let’s hope) 30 year war from 1914 to 1945 was the bloodiest period in Europe’s history. No longer content with waging crusades and colonialism, murdering people of different religions and skin colors, in the first half of the 20th century they turned on each other and suffered a very heavy price. And so it’s not difficult to imagine why—then—Germany has done a better job handling refugees fleeing from genocide than it has done handling Greece’s economic crisis.

Of course Germany can’t do it alone.

Germany wasn’t the only country to suffer during the 30 year war. Every single European state faced a shocking loss of life. In some cases a quarter of their male population aged 18 to 25 were wiped out. And yet every European country has survived, reborn from the Old Europe as a collective of shared responsibility and universal identity. This can never happen again, they say. And they’re right. The Old Europe that died in 1914 is gone forever. The rest of Europe has no excuse for ignoring this problem. This can never happen again, they say, but it can happen to others. No. No it fucking can’t. You have a basic responsibility to humans. Meet that burden.

And then there’s Israel, the pride of White Protestant Conservatism (in the US) and the bane of pretty much every other social group who values human dignity over ethnic and religious identity. Last week Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected calls that Israel take in some of the migrants fleeing war and persecution. His actual response:

[Israel is] a very small country that lacks demographic and geographic depth.

This should shock the conscience of any reader. In other words, Netanyahu worries that if Israel allows these migrants to take refuge in the Jewish country, the country will become less Jewish!! So what? Who fucking cares? And he’s willing to risk innocent civilians’ lives to preserve Israel’s Jewish identity? Shame on him. A country founded in response to the greatest tragedy to ever fall on humans has no room in its heart for people facing their own horrors. A little empathy is all I ask. Israel knows what it’s like. It should fucking know better.

And my country, the US of A. Although far, far isolated from the wars, we seem to be taking our sweet time. Shame on us too.

Look, my point is that we’re all sitting here arguing over whether or not we can fucking share, ok? Meanwhile, these migrants are traveling sometimes from as far away as Afghanistan to escape intolerable conditions, walking on foot through Islamic State-controlled territories, facing death every step of the way, for the hope—the possibility—of a chance at a better life… in Greece. What does that tell you? Of course we can fucking share!!

I don’t care what it takes. Just get it done. As a species we’ve survived too many horrors to still be treating our fellow human beings as if they come second to our comfort. There’s no excuse for dragging our feet any longer.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political and social activist.
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