I Am You
This post is a bit late. Sorry.
I had it all but written, then I changed my mind about it.
It was another about our life in Cartagena. How I’d been up the mast again. How we’d been to a fantastic concert in the town square.
But then I saw the news.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said;
There is no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.
Last week children died.
Children died in a bomb explosion in Manchester UK.
Western leaders spoke of their outrage and expressed solidarity.
U.S. President Donald Trump used these words speaking in Bethlehem.
“And the innocent life must be protected, all innocent lives. All civilized nations must join together to protect human life and the sacred right of our citizens to live in safety and peace.”
The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May put troops on the streets and declared that the British people would never be defeated by evil.
The deaths of those children in Manchester struck a nerve. It reminded many of us that our first duty as parents is to keep our children safe.
A few days later more children died. But this time there was no outrage, no speeches, no action.
These children drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, some of them locked below decks in a rotten wooden boat.
They died a stones throw from where those same Western leaders who’d been so sickened less than 48 hours previously were meeting for the G7 summit in Sicily.
The rescue boat carrying 34 corpses and 593 survivors had to steam another 48 hours North to disembark their sad cargo because they weren’t allowed to land in Sicily for ‘security reasons’. Their trauma was extended whilst the politicians wined and dined.
Over the past 10 days alone almost 10,000 people have been rescued off the coast of Libya. Dozens have died including many children.
This year so far 69,574 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea. The majority of these into Italy and Greece. At least 1,569 have died. Many were children. Who knows how many more lie trapped in shipwrecks beneath the waves.
The Italian government proposed a pre-summit initiative to draft a stand-alone G7 statement aimed at addressing the problem. The United States and U.K. opposed and blocked it.
The charity Oxfam said that as a result “the summit produced no concrete steps to protect vulnerable migrants or to address the root causes of displacement and migration,”
Roberto Barbieri, Executive Director of Oxfam Italy also said: “The G7 leaders have been absent without leave on some of the biggest issues of our age. Their focus on security is understandable in light of recent cruel attacks, but this should not be at the expense of tackling famine or the challenges of migration. President Trump, more than anyone else, has assumed the role of spoiler-in-chief – blocking agreement on many of these key concerns that affect millions of the world’s poorest people”.
Trump and May talk endlessly about immigration. Both talk about stopping people coming, building walls and fences, arrest and deportation.
They dance around with bullshit answers and deceitful words but their message is clear.
“Immigrants are stealing your job, making you poorer and ruining your country. Never mind the facts, just feel angry at foreigners. Particularly if they have a different skin colour and religion.”
May has been doing it for years. As Home Secretary she oversaw a billboard campaign telling illegal immigrants to “Go home or face arrest”.
Their actions this week have shown their true colours. They believe that the only lives that matter are those of the people who vote for them.
They are stirring hatred and division.
They want to create a them and us world.
They know exactly what they’re doing.
There is no them and us. We are all human, we are all equal. What’s the old saying? “There but for the grace of God go I”. Have we forgotten what that means? It’s got nothing to do with God or religion. It’s simply an acknowledgement of truth. None of us got to choose our parents or the place of our birth . We didn’t get to choose if we’d be bought up in a peaceful country with a loving family, a roof over our heads, food on the table. The children who drowned this week didn’t choose to be born into worn torn poverty stricken countries. they didn’t choose to live in fear of being bombed and shelled everyday. They didn’t choose to be starving and sick. Their parents didn’t choose that for them either. Their parents had long since run out of choices.
That’s why they were in an overcrowded leaky boat miles offshore. Their parents did that. They did it trying to keep their children safe, trying to give them a chance in life. They deserved more.
What did Trump say? “All civilized nations must join together to protect human life”. Yeah right. Talk is cheap. Our ‘leaders’ have mastered the art of saying the right thing at the right time. It’s actions that prove what they really mean.
I’m just a simple guy with a bit of common sense. If it’s obvious to me then it must be obvious to those in power.
First: Thousands of men women and children are risking their lives in the Mediterranean Sea every single day. Hundreds are dying.
For now they cannot be stopped. They are desperate. We have no concept of how bad their lives must be for them to even contemplate this journey.
They cannot be allowed to drown like rats. ACTION: Adequate government funded Search and Rescue resources to save their lives.
Second: Building walls and fences won’t change anything. Telling voters that you’ll limit immigration won’t change anything. Pretending it’s someone else’s problem won’t change anything.
These people want a little of we have, and why shouldn’t they? We use water to wash our cars, they have none to drink. We throw food away because it’s past its sell by date, they’re starving. Which of us could look any of these fellow humans in the eye and say ‘No’.
Many of those who drowned this week were from Nigeria. There are 160 million people in Nigeria. It’s one of the world’s largest oil producers. Of that 160 million population nearly 120 million live in extreme poverty. Many have no access to fresh water, are close to starving and have no prospects for employment. The countries infrastructure is falling apart. Twenty of the twenty four billionaires in Africa come from Nigeria. The immense wealth of that minority comes at the expense of the masses. Nigeria overtook South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy in 2014.
Look at the list of U.S. and U.K Companies operating in Nigeria and you’ll see many of the biggest names in Banking and Oil.
And there it is. The problem that will never be solved because those in power don’t want it to be solved.
Banking and Oil. The largest most corrupt businesses in the world. All powerful, global, above the law. Both with enough money to lobby, payroll and corrupt any politician they choose. Both with enough money and influence to destroy anyone who tries to change the status quo.
The Acting President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was invited to that G7 summit in Sicily. He had his picture taken with Trump. Both of them grinning and giving the thumbs up. Just offshore a ship was sailing past with those 34 bodies on deck. Sick.
It’s all very depressing. I fear for the future. I feel ashamed of my own country. If Trump and May hold onto power things will only get worse.
I’m glad we’re in another country. Spain is more welcoming, more open than our own. We know that because we’re migrants too.
But let’s end on a positive note. There are still many good people in this world. They deserve our thanks.
That ship I mentioned. The one that rescued those 593 people. She’s called the ‘Phoenix’ and she’s run by a private NGO called MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station).
MOAS was set up and funded by an American couple named Christopher and Regina Catrambone.
Here’s a short video that tells the story;
The work they do is finally attracting some support. The band ‘Coldplay’ have recently become patrons. Here’s the LINK to their support page. Scroll down, watch the short video.
Whatever the politics. Whatever the reasons. Whatever the rights and wrongs.
No-one deserves to die at sea.
We sailors know that more than most.
That’s why I’ll be buying a T-Shirt. Because I am You.