I remember reading Katie Hopkins tweet detailing we 'send the gun boats' out on migrants and thinking little of it, simply because that woman deserves little thought. I brushed her attitude aside as an ignorant anomaly, hungry for attention, and not one of the UK population as a whole. But it appears her tweet does indeed reflect the fear, lack of understanding and selfishness of a nation somewhat lacking in compassion.
It bothers me that Gary from down the road genuinely thinks these families on home-made rafts are leaving Syria and other parts of North Africa to take his job in B&Q. No, seriously, he genuinely believes these people risked life and limb to cross an ocean and stack some shelves for £6 an hour. And you know it must be true because Bob and Sandra have said the same thing after their recent holiday to Kos, which was totally ruined by the scenes of distraught, starving people fleeing war torn countries right before their eyes. I mean, how dare they right? Let's not even get started on Dean and Andrea who had to queue for hours in the Euro Tunnel to get into France all because of the Calais migrants. Who are they to just wash up on these beaches or cause HUGE delays in the Euro Tunnel on a summer holiday (come on, what inconsiderate timing) and remind us that there are bigger problems in the world than our own?
The rhetoric that people are fleeing war torn countries, where their governments want them dead and their life has no value, for reasons as trivial as a better job shows really just how sheltered we are. To not be able to see past the fact that these people are simply desperately trying to save their own lives is not one due to lack of education or understanding. It's due to not wanting to. We don't want to see that people genuinely need our help, because that means we have to do something about it. We'd rather turn a blind eye and spin some scare stories because it's easier that way.
The UK has lived in the politics of fear for a long time now. By pushing everyone away and refusing to acknowledge the problems in the world we have not only become selfish but heartless and nasty. We have come up with scaremongering stories to justify our lack of compassion and right to turn away those in need. We have fed on the stories of a minority trying to abuse our welfare system or economic privileges and in turn painted all those simply wanting to live a life without the fear of being killed with the same brush.
It's time to stop. It's time to stop believing that everyone in a burqa who comes to the UK wants to blow you to bits. Because they don't. In fact it is more than likely that they are in the UK to escape the very regime that makes you think that way about them. It's time to stop being so god damn selfish that we can see pictures of children crying into their fathers arms, stuck in no man's land, and deny them the asylum they seek. It's time to stop acting like we have any right to deny others the safety we were given from the pure luck of being born in a stable country and simply sticking two fingers up to them, oblivious to the fact that that could so easily have been us.
The actions of a minority should never make a country so cold to the needs of so many who desperately and genuinely need our help. Bravery isn't being ignorant and standing tall waving a union jack, allowing safety and prosperity to those simply born here. Bravery is doing the right thing even if it's the hardest thing. Even if it means welcoming someone in who doesn't speak your language. Even if it's accepting three hour queues in the euro tunnel are a worthy consequence if it means five more families get to live tonight. Britain doesn't have a problem with immigrants. It has a problem with compassion.