Back in 2014 the UNHCR worked with addsoftheworld.com to produce an add campaign to bring awareness to the world of the plight of refugees. This particular add was in South Korea.
When I think of refugees I think of the pain of deprivation, hunger, illness, the loss of family, jobs, homes, savings, experiencing poverty, vulnerability, insecurity and the indiffernce of those around them. The grief must be almost crushing, the devastation of loss and change too difficult to contemplate. They are at the mercy of others.
I don’t think of political positioning – is this a leftist issue, or is it liberalism, or whatever? I find politics merely clouds the issue and becomes a smokescreen for ignorance, fear and prejudice. Politics automatically takes a view, a position, and is usually founded on suspicion, even racism. Politics grounds its power in fear and looks for control. Instead I think of the person. If we don’t consider the person, we only ever view them as objects through the political prism, and they become invisble to us as people, and become sub-human, pawns in a political game.
If we burned every flag, removed every national anthem, removed borders and the notion of sovereignty – would it change anything? (which is my preferred fantasy) Probably not as we are creatures that need to create niches, spaces, corners, and familiar places. We will always seek a corporate identity, a local sense of belonging. But just imagine, if we did achieve that level of complete freedom from fear, control and ownership, it might just change our thoughts about the stranger, the alien in the land. If there’s no sovereignty there’s nothing to protect, no line to defend, no one to exclude. Sadly, as documentaries such as ‘The Wave’, ‘Blue eyes, Brown Eyes’ and the ‘Stanford Experiment’ show, if we have power over someone we tend to become indifferent to their humanity.
However, I’m a little more hopeful than the documentary makers, because in the every day I meet wonderfully liberated people who surrender ego and power and see only people irrespective of race, tribe, religion, politics. There are wonderful people who desire to reach out and enable others to thrive. There are many who have given up on politics as an answer, but inhabit the political space in order to bring positive change, to help us be able to see that we are all part of the issue. There are the compassionate and those who seek the common good for all.
In an imperfect world, we can be the difference rather than the indifferent. The add campaign was a media success, though I have not yet discoverd if it was a success in reaching the people, but at least at one level it worked to address the issue of those who are invisible. The enduring question for me is, who am indifferent to and who can’t I see?