It’s “spoiling the atmosphere”. Tourists in Kos react to migrant crisis on the Greek island (BBC)
The text in combination with this picture made me literaly feel sick in my stomach. In a glimpse, I saw myself as the tourist and Michael as the man from Africa. Michael is only one of the many great, talented, young men from Ghana whom I learned to know whilst being there.
On emotional level I felt apathetic at first and then angry. I recognise these type of intense reactions in myself as a message, a designation. I felt apathetic at first, totally not able to understand what was said here. Then I got angry: “As a white European, I am allowed to stand and travel wherever I want. Why me and not the same for many others? Even if Michael, or others, would have some money available, they are not ‘just’ allowed to enter Europe. What exactly again makes me different, makes me a better person having more rights?”
I decided to move away from myself and Michael and away from white tourists and African refugees, but to look at all of us as human beings. Then I see the tourist is a person who just doesn’t know how to deal with anyone who is different and want to protect him/herself from strangers. And the refugee is just a person resting for a while and enjoying the bench.
It is not a migrant crisis. It is a human crisis.
Then I got the Dutch musician Douwe Bob in my mind. I started searching and found this song that is such a great reflection of this situation.
News items like this need to be produced, to prevent these situations from being hidden. This was a neutral article explaining several perspectives without concluding. But on the other hand, emphasizing the word ‘migrant crisis’ refers to the migrants as the one in crisis and causing the problem. And comparing white tourists with black migrants is putting people in boxes and divides us more. Because if we generalise it: it makes me ‘the white not accepting blacks in my continent’ which feels unfair. And it makes Michael ‘the poor black man from Africa’ who has to search for a better life in Europe. Which is totally not matching the will power and ambition of so many people in Africa who work very hard to create a better life for themselves and society.
So, I refuse to just take this as it is brought to me through the news. But what is the alternative? I cannot solve the situation. I cannot save the world we live in. I can only influence my own mind, attitude and behavior and dare to share how I think, perceive and act different.
I left the topic for a few hours and got some new thoughts, starting with myself. I am people-oriented. Many people aren’t and that is why the world is not changing: because people do not really change. I know that Michael and I have totally different backgrounds and I had many more opportunities from an early age, but this doesn’t mean that one of us is more or less than the other.
I keep on believing in equivalence, simply because we are all human beings, living on the same planet. And even though I am very privileged to be born in the Netherlands in this time (especially as a woman) I did and do have to face trauma’s too. In my own life experiences and also sensing the ones from my family history, going way back.
I am the only one who chooses to overcome these or keep myself as a victim of these. The same for people everywhere in the world. And if I feel guilty coming from the Western world, having a need to help people in Africa, I put myself in a higher position. That is not my motivation and I refused to do that since childhood. I always questioned:
Are we really different or did society f.ck with our minds and make us differ?
But I want to be critical on my own thinking too. Is equivalence a dream in my mind, coming from a privileged part of the word or can it be reality?
I am the one flying to Ghana and back to the Netherlands. But, I refuse to think in general as much as possible. I myself am not regular, not typical and released myself from how society defined me to be. I try not to have an opinion without doing and living it myself (practice what I preach). So for now the conclusion is: I cannot have the answer without interacting/discussing it with the people who are part of the thought and the solution: young Ghaniains.
Then I wrote these words:
Wherever and whenever we are born in the world, we all have our own trauma’s and need each other to heal
It is a big and a small thought simultaneously. It makes all of us responsible for our own trauma’s and overcoming these. It also creates awareness that we can help each other through difficult times and we can only heal the world together. It is small, because I can start reflecting it today.
YES, I CAN !