Monday, 7 July 2014

Thinkings: When people die without air.



I read this news article yesterday, and it kind of hit me in the face, you know, right between the eyes. There are so many things in the news that grab my attention, propel me out of my comfy life and force me to look, head on at the awful 'stuff' which takes place around me.
But this one, just did something a bit more than that.

If you haven't read the article, it is an account of a small shipping vessel found off the coast of Sicily. Like lots of boats approaching Italy at the moment, it came from North Africa, and was rammed to the brink with people trying to escape to Europe, in the hope of a safer life. 
When the police reached the boat, and went down to the hull, there was a mass of intertwined bodies, hundreds of them. Intertwined, like a messy pile of string, desperate to be unravelled.

They all died while trying to flee the reality of violence and poverty they were trying to leave behind.

I was lying in my bed while reading this, and two things really struck me.
Firstly, just how desperate some people, well not some, but thousands and thousands are, to want to cram themselves into the hull of a boat, just to escape to what they hope will be a better life.
I hate boats on the sea, I get VERY seasick, I hate going below deck, the fumes are horrid, it's usually stuffy and hot. These people basically layered themselves in, they paid a lot of money for this privilege, just to escape.
They second thing I found gruelling to read, was the account of a man who said he was on the boat. He was thought to have paid more for his passage as he got to sit on the deck, 
this deck.

 He said that the door which led to the hull of the boat was open, so the people squashed in the hull could have an air source. As the boat hit choppy waters, they started to try to clamber out of the hull, thus jeopardising the safety of those already on the deck.
So the passengers on the deck, shut the door.

They shut the door.


Shouts could be heard begging them to open the door.

The door was never re opened.


I couldn't believe that the people on the deck, just let them die.
They LET them die.
But then, I stopped and thought.
They shut the door, as they feared for their already volatile chances of survival.
Could they have not done some kind of rotation system ?
Could they not have explained it to them,
could they not, could they not.....?

It was then I realised, the people on the deck were richer, the ones underneath weren't, they paid less for their tickets.
How often in life could I forgo a luxury ( let alone a basic necessity to live) to help someone less fortunate than myself. To swap places with them for a brief time, just to make things more bearable.

Daily, I choose not to do this.
Human nature is to protect ourselves, it is also to help others, but there is a line.
And on that boat the line was drawn, and those people died.

If I was in that position, what would I say to someone like me? 
I don't know, I really don't. But, I suspect some on that boat, coming from Syria at some point had a life not dissimilar to mine, with all the privilege that being middle class brings. 

But then things got messy. There was war and displacement.

What would they say to me today ?

I kind of wonder, if it would simply be, enjoy the freedom I have. Enjoy and live life.
Not spend my days feeling guilty, guilty that I have, and they don't. Guilty that I am alive and those who died in that vile and inhumane way, aren't.
But just to live, to thrive, to enjoy every ounce of what I have.
Surely not to make the most of my freedom, and take pleasure in what I have is the ultimate insult to people on that boat ?

I don't know, but that is what I just wondered when I read it.

I also kind of wonder if people are going to desperate measures to get to Europe, the least we can do is share with them, just a little bit more ?

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