Refugee crisis: are we better than that?

It’s good to see that, globally, we are finally motivated to care about the plight of the growing number of refugees.

In a heart beat, we stopped calling them the sterile term “asylum-seekers” (or more idiotically, illegal asylum-seekers) and recognised them for what they are.

What changed our perception were, primarily two photographs; one of an emotional father on the beach and another, more horrible; a lifeless child on another beach.

“Aren’t we better than this?” many have been asking.

No. No, we’re not better than this. If we were, actions would never have led us to such conclusions.

We’ve had more than a decade of scapegoating refugees as potential terrorists, the eroders of cultural identity and even the cause of job loss or economic weakness. Even since this shift in attitude, our own PM has stated that by helping the refugees we hold in detention camps, we would be rewarding people smugglers.

(A word to the wise: the people smugglers already have the money, they don’t care about the future of these people.)

Refugees are the easy option for that ails your political sphere. Afterall, how often do they have enough of a voice to defend themselves?

We are only ever as good as our behaviour, including, more damningly, those voted in to direct future actions. Polls shouldn’t be just a signal for anxious politicians, but also a gauge of popular attitude.

Policies geared towards coming down hard on refugees have remained popular for years.

No, we’re not better than that.

Sure, a voice of defence for refugees has lingered in the national discourse, but this has been drowned out by red-faced rants wrapped in a makeshift Aussie flag cape. Morality has long tried to be entertained, only to be rejected, on most platforms.

So, again, we’re not better than that.

If we cared about the risks of boat arrival, we would have long recognised that these refugees are not idiots. Just like us, they know just how risky this venture is. Moreover, they often burn the last of their meagre cash supplies on the gamble.

Given a genuine alternative in an Asian country, say a processing office that gave them real hope of refuge, the whole “business model” of the smugglers would be undermined.

Because risky behaviour remains the preferable option also tells us that we are not better than that.

If we were better than this, we would have been proactive, not reactive after some gruesome photos went viral.

It’s always easier to ignore a problem than to face it. Our willingness to warp the problem and to blame the victims speaks volumes to what we will condone.

My only hope is that this is not a mere wisp of concern to quickly be lost the next time a politician points the finger and screams “bogeyman!”

Don’t be hoodwinked.

Allow this to be another step forward in our moral development.

Ultimately, this is only the start of the problem. Not only are the players involved seemed determined to annihilate the Middle East, but food and water security will increasingly shift where people will need to be, simply to live.

Without tolerance, we will fail to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

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