Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Newbies

Today I watched the July 9 episode of Q and A.  Once again, they talked about asylum seekers.

I'm still trying to figure it all out.  My head is spinning, just like it does with the subject of mental illness.

One minute I feel one way.  Then someone says something, and I change my mind. Then someone says something else, and I change my mind again.

This is what I'm thinking right now.

A.  The main goal of the Gillard government, and the coalition, is to prevent the boats from coming.   They say this is about saving lives...preventing drowning.  I disagree. I think it's about them not wanting to deal with the problem.

It's not like these people are tourists looking for a fun place to hang out. They're desperate. They're in danger. They're looking for safety.

There's talk of dangerous boats and evil criminal people smugglers. We need to stop this business.

Yes.  Of course.

But if that was really the goal then why not provide an alternate form of transportation?

Some people on the Q and A Twitter thing suggested airplanes. I may be wrong, but I think ships would be cheaper.

Couldn't the government charter some cruise ships?

It's probably too much for the budget, so maybe some private organizations can help out a bit.

B.  On the program I watched yesterday, someone asked if it were British people seeking asylum, would it be as much of an issue?

I think the answer is no. Racism is definitely involved.

But I think the desire to turn back the boats, and the desire to send people back where they came from, goes beyond racism.

Do you know that saying, Save your drama for your mama?

Well, lots of people don't like to be around people with problems. They like to be around happy and healthy people, because it makes them feel more comfortable.

When we bring asylum seekers into our country, we're not only bringing in people with a different skin color and different language, we're bringing in people who have been through great drama and trauma.  Because of this,  many of them could be classified as mentally ill.

It might be that they're more likely to be angry and/or crazy.  Would we rather have these people as our new neighbor, or would we rather have the happy-go-lucky migrant family with a working visa?

Sometimes, for some people, race trumps all that.  They'd rather have the traumatized white people than a happy-go-lucky black or brown family.

What am I trying to say here?

I'm not sure.

It's definitely NOT that we should shut our hearts and borders to hurting people.

I'm just guessing that some of the hesitation in welcoming newbies is due to wanting to avoid all their war torn baggage.

C.  I personally think Australia (and America, of course) should let in as many refugees as possible.   I DO think we should open our arms.

I think we should welcome newbies and help them through their troubles.

However, I think the newbies need to have realistic expectations.  Fruitcake has talked about this.  I can't remember if it was on her blog, or a comment on my blog.  She does have an interesting RECENT post, though, about past refugee camps.  

Anyway.....

Asylum seekers complain a lot about the conditions in Australia.  They don't stick to quiet verbal complaints. They attempt suicide.  They sew their lips together. They go on hunger strikes. They start fires.  I think there's been some riots......

I still don't know if they're doing this because the conditions are truly horrible. Or are they doing it because their expectations are too high?

I'm picturing the Titanic.  Are the asylum seekers expecting first class accommodations and instead they're getting third class accommodations?

I think third class is at the level they should expect.  They should expect winters to be a bit too cold and summers to be a bit too hot. They should expect to wait in long lines and have to do an annoying amount of sharing.

This is so wrong for me to say since I'm typing away on my own computer in an air-conditioned room, and when I need to use the toilet, I don't have to stand in a line.  

But one day my country might be invaded. Or we might have a civil war.

Comfort isn't guaranteed to last forever.

If my family ever has to flee, I hope we'd expect and understand that the conditions in which we're rescued aren't going to be pretty.

Our lives will be really shitty, but hopefully they'll be less shitty than our war lives.  

I know we'll complain. I know we'll bitch about it.

But I hope we'll be able to put things into perspective and be somewhat gracious about the whole thing.

Now I could be wrong about all this.  Maybe the detention centres aren't like the third class of the Titanic.   Maybe they're like the convict ships in the first and second fleet.  Or worse, maybe they're like a Nazi death camp...minus the gas showers.

If you take away the gas showers from the death camps, the conditions were still absolutely horrible.  

Let's say the conditions of the detention centres are absolutely horrible. I'd want to know why. Is it lack of funding?  Do they not have enough money to take care of all these people coming in?  Are funds being mismanaged?   Are they hiring abusive and incompetent people?

Or is the government purposely making the detention centres awful as a way to deter people from coming.

Yes.  It's awful here.  My brother was just beheaded. My sister has been sold to slavery.   I haven't eaten in days.  There are people shooting at us.  But we don't want to go to Australia.   We'll be sent to a detention centre....indefinitely.   And it's complete hell there. We're better off here.   

I've decided it's time to summarize my thoughts.

So here we go.  

Australia should let in as many asylum seekers as possible, and make the conditions as comfortable as the budget will allow. And keeping in mind what I've learned from Fruitcake, if you add too much to one group's budget, you're likely to take away from another group of needy people. Asylum seekers aren't the only ones going through a rough time.  

Asylum seekers should try their best to accept their conditions, but also work in peaceful, creative, and gentle ways to improve their conditions.