The Migrant Crisis and the total sum of all our actions
‘Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little’. Edmund Burke
On Tuesday evening last I was happily scrolling through my facebook page looking at cute back to school photos posted by friends and family, when a photo of 6 or 8 bodies of young migrant children washed up on a shore popped up in my news feed.
It was a shocking image and my immediate thought was ‘I don’t want to see this in my news feed’. A brief discussion on it was held with colleagues in MKC the next day. That was it, nothing more.
Then on Thursday, an image of a young boy, who looked for all the world like he was asleep in his cot was splashed across newspapers and websites all over the world and everything changed.
Why did little Alyan Kurdi spark such an emotive response? Who knows? Maybe it was because we have all seen a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, a grandson or granddaughter asleep in the same position. As someone tweeted ‘He was someone’s son; he was all our son.’
Will it make any real difference to the plight of refugees and migrants seeking safety in the EU? Who knows?
Edmund Burke said; ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ and while Governments prevaricate and migrants die as a result, ordinary people have been galvanised into action.
People like Tracey Ryan and her friends who set up Cork Calais Migrant Solidarity and are arranging a convoy of aid to Calais on the 30th of September. In the last 48 hours support groups have sprung up across Ireland with collection points open this Saturday to take in much needed supplies to the camp. Stena has agreed to help, Shannon Airport has given a depot where donations can be left; a transport company is providing a container. People going to Electric Picnic this weekend can donate their tents and sleeping bags.
The generosity of Irish people to the plight of refugees is no surprise. It is embedded in our DNA, reflecting our own history of flight from famine and economic poverty to the four corners of the world. In the 1970’s growing up in Shannon, families from Chile were given refuge from the war taking place in that country. Our neighbours, the Cassidy’s gave a home to a young Chilean couple waiting to be housed and people donated blankets, furniture, pots and pans to help these families set up home. These families became valuable members of our community. In the 1990’s we opened our homes to the Children of Chernobyl and many communities throughout Ireland continue to do so.
And now, many Irish people are saying to our Government ‘you are not doing enough’. To the leaders in the EU they are saying ‘you are not doing enough’. Although to be fair Angela Merkel has been doing her best to make her male counterparts face up to the depth of the crisis and to take action.
The image of thousands of migrants imprisoned on a train in Hungry echos images from World War 2. Are we destined to forever repeat our history? Or will we all do a little, so that the total sum of all our actions, effects change for good?