So, when did we all become so self-centred? When did we stop caring? When did we lose our humanity?
Our newspapers are full of stories about migrants in dirty, muddy camps in Calais but we do nothing to help. Instead we silently thank the Lord they are in France and not here. There are reports on the television about stowaways in juggernauts suffocating and we do nothing. We say how terrible it is but heave a sigh of relief that this is happening in Austria and not on British motorways. There are pictures of bloated dead bodies floating in the ocean after massively overcrowded refugee boats capsize but we do little but wonder why they can’t just stay in their own countries.
We love looking at pictures and photographs of our scantily clad friends and families sunbathing on their summer holidays on Mediterranean beaches but we look away in horror when the photographs show the half clothed bodies of drowned Syrian children fleeing war and destitution. We all nod knowingly when we learn that other countries are accepting refugees and giving them a home, their countries are bigger than our after all, but we are all outraged if anyone suggests we should be doing our bit, and that we should be taking anyone else in, after all, we’re full.
And, when the stories we are reading are about people from our own country we are no better. We allow the Government to withdraw welfare benefits from sick and disabled people and tell them they should get a job when the available work is limited without batting an eyelid. We read stories about people who have died within six weeks of being declared fit for work but we do nothing. We allow people to be thrown on the scrap heap just because they are unable to work for a living. We listen to politicians saying work will make you better but the available work is limited.
We hear about people who cannot afford to pay for the electricity they need to run fridges to store their insulin due to their welfare benefits being sanctioned. We hear about parents who cannot afford to feed their chronically sick child due to their welfare benefits being cut. We hear about people who are evicted with nowhere else they can go due to their welfare benefits being sanctioned. We shake our heads when when hear about the million people this year alone who have been given three day food packages by the Trussell Trust foodbanks after their welfare benefits were sanctioned or withdrawn. Welfare benefits which were designed to support people who were unable to work due to sickness and disability.
If the dead bodies on the motorway were majestic lions shot by overfed foreign hunters, if the suffocating stowaways were playful puppies in cages during the Chinese dog meat eating festival, if the bloated bodies on the beach were adorable seal pups that had been clubbed to death in Canada there would be public outcry. If the starving children in Great Britain were living in a third world country, if the homeless families in Great Britain were sleeping in the gutters of a third world city, if the workless disabled people in Great Britain were begging and dying on the other side of the world we would be able to salve our consciences by setting up a direct debit or buying a ticket to a benefit concert. As it is when we hear about the human heartbreak all around us we are happy to to push it to the back of our minds, after all, it’s not our problem – or is it?