Saturday, August 15, 2015

Refugees and Immigration

Some of us have become perhaps too middle class. While  walking down the  long railway footpath to Wimbledon  this morning to buy a newspaper I came across two Romanian women picking blackberries  and some green foliage which I did not recognise. This reminded me of times when my own parents were comparatively young and not wealthy and we went out  picking blackberries from Epsom Downs. The  railway footpath blackberries today were/are luscious clean (no traffic except cyclists and nearby mainly electric trains) and plentiful yet I and presumably many others in the UK now  buy ours from Sainsbury's. Have we become too middle class I wondered?

Immigration and refugees are difficult topics for the  middle classes  as the UK is clearly small geographically speaking and I believe one of the most crowded if not overcrowded countries in Europe.

However, historically  in its influencing  of others the UK has  rarely been small   but invariably both great and of course sadly like all humanity can be sometimes, ill.

The tradition of welcoming oppressed immigrant minorities to these shores is a long one; the Hugenots; Jews, Irish Pakistani; Bangladeshi  and  Ugandan  Asians to name but a few. Yet today in C21 we are building barricades to inhibit the refugees from Syria from accessing the  country. This I feel is a tragedy for the refugees who have already had their lives turned upside down and worse by ISIS and perhaps demeaning of us ourselves.

Of course admitting say 150,000 more people to the country would not be easy  but as the large number of  eg Polish immigrants from the EU illustrates they  will in due course be likely to contribute much to society.

The balance of benefits and detriments to the UK  is not the point however as the point surely is our common humanity.

Raising this topic with a catholic religious sister over coffee a few days back her view was in line with the above. She added that one only has to take the train from London to Edinburgh to see ample space where a new city for say 150,000 people could be built so the issue really is really one of fear  and perhaps selfishness. Having reflected on her point for quite some time I agree.

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