Initially written to: The Royal Commonwealth Society
I hope when I write to you this letter, I understand you. I understand your routines, your way of living, and your reasons — the way you wish me to. I hope I understand your dilemmas, anxieties and hitches — in the light you prefer to illuminate. And I most certainly hope, that I understand the essential difference between us. You’re from a country soaked with the plea of refugees, and I belong to one which is yet to receive its rain.
And perhaps this is where I should end my letter, because even when I seek answers as to why you shut your doors (borders) to these braves, who endured such stormy lives in turbulent countries, I might never understand your reasons, maybe as I myself have never lived them. I’ve never heard the voices of refugees like you have, never sensed the dust on their ragged clothes. Never seen the helplessness in their eyes, or the bones more prominent than their frail masses. And yet I prefer to continue this letter.
Because I wonder what I would do if I were you. If a brave came knocking on my door someday and I shut the wood on his face, what reasons would I give? The crisis is worsening, the rain might be over our head tomorrow. Will I or will I not welcome them? I’d have to act that crucial moment, so I better prepare my answers now. But my thoughts are blank, and I seek your reasons, to give some face to them.
Their stories echo in the hollows of media all day, and you got the privilege to meet them. They were almost like warriors at your doorstep and you had the choice to greet them. Now why countries and men like you chose not to, is what fuels my curiosity (not my anger).
A loss of privacy in your very home — is that what you feared? Truth be told, I’d fear it too. Yet when I think of the barren, bomb shelled fields they come from, even a four walled room seems enough secrecy to me.
The acceptance of different cultural identities — is that what you looked down upon? These braves are from middle-eastern, Islamic countries. And terror and innocence, is all born in the same land. This often, I fear, is what compels people to view the beautiful religion of Islam as a birthplace of suicide bombers and head choppers. The image of refugees as harmless,unarmed warriors eludes our memory. But by the blurring the line between the ‘victimised’ and ‘victimising’, aren’t we merely proving our narrow mindedness? Our intolerance? Does this then, remain a more logical reason than the previous one? I hope you’re thinking what I’m thinking.
Security and stability — were these too, few of your biggest worries? They’re mine too. Yet when parents put their children in boats to cross vast stretches of oceans and seas, leaving their hole-riddled homes to (just maybe) make it to the shores of other countries, I wonder how tremendous a leap they take back in terms of security.
Really, I do not intend to contradict you because like I said, I lack experience of such a situation. But neither does my will allow me to support or agree, maybe because if life were a big sentence, I’d like to dot it with substance and meaning. I would add words to it, diverse and rich words so that it could mean as vast as I want it to. On the same note, if the entire world were a big country with endless borders and sea shores, I’d hope it could take in all the people from diverse religions and backgrounds equally.
Your inner voice had said to you, “Why should you let them in?”
I don’t beg the question why? But rather, why not? My heart knows no answer.
And looking at the intensity of this rain of crisis, I do hope I never find one.