A number of shops in our home town of Lewes in Sussex are showing posters in their windows which feature a photograph of someone, and then under the heading ‘The Gift of the Refugee’ is a brief summary of their life and what they have brought to Britain as a gift. The refugees are from all over – Nazi Germany, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe. It’s a clever idea – it turns on its head this idea that refugees will take something from us – our benefits, food, territory – and we read about the contributions they make – the surgeon from Syria, the writer from Africa and so on. On someone’s window there’s a picture of the Dalai Lama with the caption “I am a refugee.”
Several friends in the town have made collections of food, blankets and tents, and have gone over to France to bring them to the camps. One of them – the talented musician and composer Dirk Campbell – has just published an article revealing his thoughts about the crisis, about where we stand in relation to it, and about its relationship to those other worrying issues: climate change and terrorism.
Dirk has a wonderfully incisive mind – he cuts through to the heart of things in his conversation, and he applies this same talent to these issues. He writes: “to focus on terrorism while ignoring climate change is like trying to eliminate clothes moths when your house is about to collapse from rot. It is clearly the lesser problem, though it may appear more immediate and manageable.
Even in Paris, which suffered two terrorist outrages in 10 months, you are far more likely to die from overeating, atmospheric pollution or crossing the road than from a terrorist attack. And, as extreme weather events increase in frequency and food supplies dwindle, you will be more likely to die from climate change. Yet governments seize on terrorism. Why? If you want the real reason, as the saying goes, follow the money. The terrorist threat creates jobs and exports, selling munitions to corrupt governments who want to kill and displace their dissidents. And I would add, follow the psychology. The terrorist threat is easy to understand and makes people put faith in the government, which makes them easier to control. The climate change threat is hard to understand and nobody really believes the government can do anything about it anyway.”
And as regards the refugee crisis, the main focus of his piece, he writes: “To sit in comfort while people in other parts of the world are suffering and dying has always made many of us in the affluent West uneasy, but now those people are not just in other parts of the world, they are coming here. And we have hardly seen the start of it. There are two options: keep them out, or let them in.” Read the article to find out the solution Dirk proposes.