Thursday, 25 June 2015

Safe and sound

I really take for granted that as a British citizen, as a man, and as a white person, I can generally feel safe and unlikely to be attacked or discriminated against.

Apart from my childhood, which you've all heard about ad nauseam, I've been privileged compared to millions of people across the world who live in constant fear and insecurity, always about to be humiliated or victimised, about to lose their home or their job, or die in some incomprehensible war or religious crackdown.

I can go about my daily life with confidence and optimism, sure that on the whole I'll achieve what I want to achieve, that people will treat me fairly, that I'll be given respect and consideration.

I'm not going to be harassed and insulted by the opposite sex, I'm not going to be stopped for driving while black, I haven't been forced into the exhausting, badly-paid jobs that are reserved for immigrants. I won't be kicked around and exploited because my social status is zero.

When I stop to think about it, I count my blessings that I was born where I was, in the sex and skin that I was, into the family I was, into the neighbourhood I was, and not into totally different circumstances that would have doomed me to a hard, miserable, frantic existence.

I suppose what reminded me of all that is the way immigrants are being treated both in Britain and across the world. The desperation of all those wretched mobs at Calais. The asylum seekers treated with such contempt and cruelty by the Australian government. The torrent of refugees from the bedlam in the Middle East.

I can imagine only too well what they must be feeling, what they must be going through. It's a million miles from my own cushy experience.

I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I was certainly dealt a good hand of cards.

Pic: The Turkish Coast Guard stops a boatload of migrants trying to reach Greece.

25 comments:

CheerfulMonk said...

Great post. I continually count my blessings too.

susie said...

I can only think of one case of discrimination against me. I worked with a guy, same age, same years of experience, same color...yet he made 10 grand more than me.

Bijoux said...

I would add being grateful to have been born in the latter part of the 20th century.

Nick said...

Jean: There but for fortune, go you and I, in the words of the Joan Baez song. A song on exactly the same theme....

Susie: Ten grand more, that's outrageous. And that sort of difference is still commonplace.

Bijoux: Very true. Life in the early 20th century was still pretty restrictive, whatever your circumstances.

Wisewebwoman said...

And we are all culpable in the "wars" that brought these conditions to these unfortunates. It makes my heart break. They must feel so absolutely hopeless, homeless, cast adrift. The fear, I can't imagine it. None of us privileged can.
XO
WWW

Ursula said...

So, Nick, what do you do/contribute, from your advantaged position, to make the world a better place?

U

Nick said...

www: No, I don't think we are all culpable. It's governments and rebel armies and military factions of one kind or another that declare wars, not us powerless citizens. I was totally against the Iraq War, as were millions of others, but did the British government take any notice? They didn't give a toss.

Nick said...

Ursula: Goodness, you don't ask much, do you? How do I make the world a better place? Where governments are failing dismally to improve the world, I'm not sure what one individual like myself can do. Much the same as you probably - donate to charities, vote for political parties with a social conscience, stay in touch with my lonely elderly mother, go to political rallies, write to my MP etc. I freely admit I'm no Mother Teresa or Camila Batmanghelidjh.

Grannymar said...

I am fortunate to have a roof over my head, food on my table and am fit enough to take care of mself. Alas I am unable to solve the major problems of the world, so I use whatever little talents I have to help those closer to home. Sometimes the help they need is time and a listening ear, or it might be to drive them someplace or make them a meal.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Indeed, those little helpful gestures may be all someone needs to feel better about something. I think fixing the major problems of the world is somewhat beyond our capabilities.

Rummuser said...

I count my blessing too but I am not willing to be as charitable to the refugee problems. And I do not intend to be politically correct. We in India have a peculiar situation about which I have written enough and do not wish to elaborate but we too are constantly being asked to accommodate refugees who, without exception are Muslims. There is something wrong with them that they are the ones who are seeking refuge all over the world mostly running away from Muslim majority countries to non Muslim majority countries.

Nick said...

Ramana: But are they peaceful Muslims or fundamentalist Muslims? I would have thought the former would be welcome but the latter definitely not.

Helen Devries said...

Reading history makes one truly thankful for the telephone and good dentistry....I know how lucky I am to have been born when and where I was.
Things could have been considerably better - but when I look at the possible alternatives....

Keith Smith said...

I have just watched the news of the massacre in Tunisia where a lot of British tourists were gunned down by a member of ISIS. A Govt spokesman said " . . . .these attacks can happen anywhere in the world now, we have just got to learn to accept this fact" Accept this fact! What an idiot!

I watched a later addition of the news, video recorder at the ready, and the last bit ". . we have just got to learn to accept this fact" had been cut from the report.

Nick said...

Helen: The phone and good dentistry indeed. Some of the alternatives don't bear thinking about, they're so horrific.

Keith: Interesting that that sentence got cut out later on. Of course we should never accept the fact, what a stupid statement. Probably what he/she meant was that there's no way of protecting everyone against everything, and innocent people can suddenly find themselves in the middle of some appalling event like that one.

Ursula said...

I find it sad, Nick, that - in reply to my comment - you list staying "in touch with your elderly and lonely mother" counts as making the world a better place. My god, if parents are looked at as a charity case in their old age they'd have been better off not to have sown their seed in the first place.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Curious how you manage to twist virtually everything I say. When did I ever suggest my mother was a charity case? Your words, not mine. But perhaps you don't see keeping in touch with an elderly relative as "making the world a better place".

tammy j said...

wow.
thought provoking comments on this post.
but now that my 'silent cover' is blown...
we have never treated immigrants very well in america i think. and yet we remain a huge wonderful melting pot.
when they came/come... we made/make their life almost a living hell for a long time. yet they still come.
the thought of people on boats floating in the ocean with no food or water and not knowing if they'll be turned back to a war zone...
i cannot imagine being in a boat like that with no future. it makes me very sad.


Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

So true, Nick. I often stop to count my blessings and say 'There, but for the grace of God go I'.

But it's all such a mess at the moment and I don't know what the answer is. As a species, I don't much like people ...

Nick said...

Tammy: Now you've been outed as a secret lurker, welcome to the weird and wonderful Nickhereandnow! Very true that immigrants can be appallingly treated but still they keep on coming because they want a life that's better than the one they left behind. Indeed, the conditions on most of these ramshackle so-called boats must be quite hellish, and again, they risk disaster in the search for something better.

Nick said...

Jay: So many millions of people living in appalling conditions but it seems beyond the abilities of most governments and politicians to make things any better. No good thinking about it for long, it's too depressing.

I take people as I find them. Some are repulsive, some are lovely. I haven't quite given up hope in the human race!

Secret Agent Woman said...

I try to stay aware that I'm lucky, too, and agree that it matters to do even little things - be kind to others, vote, donate time and money to causes you believe in and so on. ANd like you, I don't claim to be a Mother Theresa.

Nick said...

Agent: Yes, the little things can make a difference, even if they're not changing the world. Just lifting someone's spirits when they're feeling overwhelmed is worth doing.

Rummuser said...

They are very peaceful when they come first. and then being vulnerable, get into the hands of slum lords and so on who use them for nefarious purposes. The young naturally take to the radicals under such circumstances. The number of criminals coming out of such refugees is not funny.

Nick said...

Ramana: Is that what happens? That's a serious problem. Unfortunately young people with not enough experience of the world can be very impressionable.