I asked a friend the other day what she thought we ought to do about the refugee crisis. She immediately said how we ought to help these people. After all, it isn’t their fault their homes are being bombed. They have nowhere to live and there is nothing they can do to avoid being killed except gather together what they can, and leave. Then where are they supposed to go?
I thought about what she said and of course, she is right, but when it came down to it, what if a family landed on my doorstep wanting food and shelter, what would I do? Suddenly the answer was not so simple. After all, I’d worked hard for years to make my home and I suddenly felt that I wouldn’t want any strangers disturbing my peace. Then again, the other day a friend rang up wanting help, I didn’t hesitate. So maybe the problem is that we don’t want strangers in our midst.
When I first came to this country I was warned what Fen fold were like. I was told that if you were walking along the road and asked someone the way, the person would look you up and down and say ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from, so I ain’t telling you.’. I didn’t believe this at first, but as a new piano teacher in the village, I went and knocked on the door of my ‘opposition’. I thought it would be wise to get to know her and reassure her that I would not poach any of her pupils. Blow me down, she gave me exactly that reaction – not using the same words of course. She looked me up and down and said she didn’t know what I was doing there and shut the door. Bang went the opportunity to sit down with a cup of tea and chat things over. Her reaction made me think that she was just plain unfriendly, but this wasn’t so. Quite soon afterwards, she telephoned to say she had some spare music for me. She wasn’t being unfriendly at all!
So, friendly or not, what should we do about the refugees? I can think of one property that has room for a family or too. It’s been empty for three years and a genuine refugee family wouldn’t give too hoots about it needing tidying up. This is the vicarage in Witchford owned by the church. There’s been a lot of fuss about the vicarage lately because rumour has it, the church are going to sell it, in spite of the locals wanting it to stay as it is. We hear so much about how wealthy the church is, so we ask why hadn’t they rented the place out if they’re so strapped for cash that they feel they want to sell it? Why don’t they open it up to a couple of refugee families? It’s not a matter of religion – it’s basic humanity: treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.
The problem with the refugees is that there’s too much dithering. While my friend had no hesitation in what the solution is, those who have the power to do something about it, do nothing. They argue back and forth about whose job it is, who should pay for it, where the refugees should end up and so on. Why don’t they just get on with it? If they’d set up a system to register the first lot of refugees immediately, given them temporary shelter and arranged for basic needs, then in a calm less traumatic way they could ask them where they want to go and why, how they are going to earn their keep, negotiate with countries about the number they should take and the problem will be eased. Once people know that they are being treated as human beings and treated fairly, we can all settle down to a peaceful and integrated society. It’s no surprise to read in the paper the other day that 56% of the population in London were born in a different country, so what are we doing being scared by an influx of immigrants? They are people like you and me and maybe if we let a few of them in, some of them could actually be helpful. Maybe I could get a decent gardener? None of the people I’ve contacted in this country want to do it. They say they want to, but when it comes down to it, they can’t commit themselves, they have no end of excuses – they want the money but they don’t want the hard work. I bet one of the refugees would jump at the chance.