I haven’t written anything about the Syrian migrant crisis which have fragmented Europe this year. I wrote about the EU, its borders and potential to bring the local and global together, but beyond these structural challenges, there are other cultural aspects to consider.
Earlier this year, Mark Rice-Oxley wrote a piece in The Guardian about our antipathy towards migrants. He noted the struggle between our emotions and rational, practical consequences of immigration:
“… the sad fact remains that until public opinion cares more about children drowning at sea than it does about immigrants settling next door, politicians will be loth to take a lead.”
We suffer emotionally when seeing pictures in the newspapers of rescue teams carrying children’s dead bodies onto Italian or Greek beaches. But when we hear about new temporary housing for immigrants in our neighbourhoods, our rational brain takes control and feelings pop up. Fear of the unknown?
Yes, but I think this fear can be explained by even deeper drivers. I believe that the antipathy we feel towards these unwanted refugees actually is an antipathy to ourselves, our dark shadow side, our unwanted selves.
I have earlier argued (in a post in Swedish I might translate if someone asks me) that this oppressed side in ourselves comes out occasionally in our fear and hatred of the stranger. The migrant, the nomad who does not settle. The person who always moves. The unwanted in our societies.
The European Union politicians, and a plethora of thinkers and analysts, are writing about the refugee crisis today and what needs to be done. Most of them are right. Everything we read about what needs to be done has some truth to it.
But I’d wish that policy makers and legislators would think about our disowned self. Think deeper about the oppressed wanderer. The part of ourselves, which indigenous people so well know needs to be acknowledged and exercised.
That part within us, which we Westerners buried a long time ago. Together with the accompanying curiosity, restlessness and wanderlust.
So the question is: How do we bring this part back?