I never pick up the Evening Standard. The ink bleeds all over my hands which annoys me and I feel grubby, imagining I have newspaper print all over my face for the next hour.
But today, I did. Today I picked up because of this.
Now I’ve been on a train in sweltering conditions. 10 minutes feels like forever, and that was knowing when I could get off and counting down the minutes. I felt like I might collapse if I didn’t get off, it was that hot. But I would sit on a sweltering train for 13 hours, hating every minute, if I could save a boatful of people. Yes it’s horrific and yes it’s unbearable – I have never felt so much like I needed to escape from what was essentially a hot tin. But how much more unbearable is having to leave your home, your belongings and a place that speaks your language, to venture somewhere far away, because that is going to be safer? Imagine leaving everything you’ve ever known, where you know the streets and which paving stone is wobbly and where the biggest puddles are when it rains. Imagine going somewhere where no one wants you, with experiences impossible to describe that are locked in your head, because even if you could articulate the horror and fear, who will understand unless they’ve been there?
The article shares someone’s views that “their treatment had been ‘atrocious’ and ‘inhumane’.”; the treatment of the train passengers returning from their holiday, not those so desperate to reach something better that they climbed on top of a train in the hope of that. I hate it when a train shoots past as I stand too close to the yellow line; what would make me climb on top of a train that travels 200mph? Nothing short of utter desperation. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think anyone should have been subject to those train conditions either. I am sure it was atrocious based on an hour’s experience I never wish to repeat.
But what is inhumane is to disregard people because we’re fearful they want our welfare. It’s inhumane to ignore the photographs of children, washed up dead on a beach. Which parent would put their child in that boat, knowing they may die, unless the alternative was worse? Imagine that alternative.
Unthinkable isn’t it?
So maybe some people are seeking the help of our welfare state and maybe some people don’t like that. But I would rather live in a welfare state that helps the desperate than one that doesn’t.
So my taxes go to pay for them. But I can still afford to pay for my ticket to sit in the sweltering tin box and put food on the table in my warm house with running water.
There are many vans and lorries heading to Calais to distribute aid to the desperate, at their own expense. My brother for one, and I’m proud of him. While I can’t drive a van, I can dig out the torches, and warm clothes for those who have next to nothing. I’m engaging politically and lobbying; I’m going to be pretty tenacious. It’s not enough to email anymore, I want to sit down face-to-face.
This headline made my blood boil, even more than it boiled on the London train with no air conditioning on the hottest day of the year. 13 hours of atrocious heat is awful; leaving all you’ve ever known to escape death is worse.
I have a voice. I have an abundance of clothes I don’t need, or even use much. I have resources at my disposal. So I’m going to use them, because the time to act has passed, and I didn’t take it, so I’m taking it now.
Atrocious. Inhumane. Be human and help.
Note: This post is not a comment on any Government/government’s response to this crisis, but a call for each of us to act humanely and help in any way that we have available to us.