Are you familiar with the Black Mirror episode Men Against Fire? Season three, episode five. For those of you who aren’t, it depicts a dystopian future in which soldiers are fighting and killing ‘zombies’. Only it turns out they aren’t zombies, but human beings. The soldiers have been fitted with implants that remove their empathy – some might call it humanity – by showing the targeted human beings as roaches (or zombies). A therapist tells the soldier who’s implant seems to be faltering, that most soldiers don’t shoot to kill, but rather aim for the space above their enemies’ heads.
So, evidently, to make a person ‘shoot to kill’, we must first remove the target’s humanity. Thus removing any empathy the shooter might feel toward the human. Which is essentially what is happening right now in the real world. In the press and the media, a word is being utilised in a deliberate fashion, to dehumanise innocent children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.
That word is migrant.
The word migrant is a highly emotive word that has been used for years as a political pawn. It takes the humanity from innocent people escaping war and death and horrific atrocities you and I can’t even begin to get our heads around. It is a word with such weight to it, that it can turn the suffering of thousands of humans into the suffering of thousands of others. It is a word that has been moulded to fit the agenda of political groups. It is a word that has been weaponised to remove empathy. It is a word that takes a news headline such as this, Teenager Drowns in English Channel, a heart-breaking story of sorrow, and turns it into this, Teenage Migrant Drowns in English Channel While Trying to Get to the UK, a headline fuelled with political dogmatism.
0.007% of the United Kingdom is made up of immigrants. 0.007%. The word immigrant is simply defined as a person, or human, who migrates to another country. I wonder, what would happen if the UK was suddenly hit with war? What if you were starving, your children dying, your spouse long gone? Imagine you desperately need to escape to simply survive. To keep breathing. How would you feel once you made it across the water on a tiny dinghy if you were refused humanity? If your child escaped death and was told they could not enter. They drowned in the sea, alone and frightened. Then the papers printed ‘teenage migrant drowns at sea while trying to come to our country’. If the humanity was ripped from you, even in death. If people accused you of trying to steal money from them, when all you were trying to do was simply live a day longer.
What happened to this ‘great’ country? I can’t imagine our great grandchildren looking at this period of history to find refugees were chased from our country, a country that allows and provides asylum, by angry citizens with the proverbial pitchfork, and feeling proud of their ancestors. Do we want to be known as a hard-headed country with no grace, no compassion, no love to extend outside of the safety of our privileged country? A country in which we don’t have to fear that a war might take away our freedom. A country in which there is very little threat of our children being ripped from our arms or drowning in the sea in a desperate bid for life.
Who would take a life-threatening boat ride across the treacherous sea in a rubber dinghy, just because they fancied a trip to the United Kingdom? The humans who decide to set out on such dangerous journeys are doing so because they have no other choice.
Let us open our borders, our arms, and our hearts.