I’ve said nothing about the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and the refugees who are fleeing from almost certain death. What have I to contribute to the discussion? Failed solutions of the past are already being revisited. We can harden our hearts to the misery, as Israel’s Prime Mister, Benjamin Netanyahu, exhorts us to do. He blames the victims for their fate, falsely accusing Palestinians for having had a hand in the Holocaust. (The Week, October 30, 2015, pg. 5) Or, we can exterminate the refugees as one Mexican official proposed for its homeless, a plan Brazil implemented for its own. (Blog 11/19/15) Or we can ignore the tragedy and do nothing, like hospitals in the Philippines that routinely refuse to admit patients who are unable to pay for treatments. (“Refusing to treat the poor,” excerpted from The Manila Times, The Week, 10,30/15, pg. 15.)
At the moment, doing nothing seems to be the preferred response from heads of state who are busy playing politics with the unfolding tragedy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey wants his country to be admitted to the European Union. He knows Germany needs his help to control the tide of immigrants , so he chooses this moment to raise the issue of membership with Angela Merkel, Germany’s Prime Minister. Hungary, on the other hand, exhibits a brazen callousness, which is honest, at least. They’ve built a wall and are prepared to see “the other” die of abandonment. (Click)
The United States, though imagining itself a leader of the free world, can hardly be expected to solve Europe’s immigration crisis. It has one of its own, lead by a majority in Congress who resent providing shelter and medical treatment to citizens who are indigent and are unwilling to show compassion for impoverished foreigners. Even as we try to have an effect in the Middle East, are we not suspect, we who have exploited oil producing nations for decades?
Alas, poor Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans there are no knights in shining armor to rescue you. Except….
If I had to choose one bight hope in this chaos, I’d choose Greece. Having been cold shouldered by Europe and the World Bank for it debts, this government has made its shores a haven for the desperate. They have little to share, being impoverished by austerity cut backs, yet they continue to provide dry land, water and a little food to the newly homeless. This cradle of western democracy, mother of our western values, reminds us once again of the dignity in every human and that every human should be treated accordingly.
How ironic, that to satisfy its creditors, a tax is about to be levied on Greek grappa, a poor man’s drink, a tax that will threaten the livelihood of many small distillers. (Click) If there is any decency in Europe and the World Bank, they should withdraw their demands for this last drop of blood. Daily, the Greeks remind us of the best that is in us. The lesson is worth the price of a poor man’s drink.