The struggle to survive hinges on a stable home and a safe environment. When the collapse of order crushes the right of dignity of every person then the grass looks greener on the other side. The greener side is the destination of distressed people to make difficult journeys away from the motherland to any other place to live with some dignity. Refugees suffer the devaluation of their religion, culture, tradition and their lives making them victim of absurd stereotyping and hazy generalisations. Education is the door to address the need to subvert stereotypes and preposterous generalisations. Amir Nizar Zuabi shows how, ‘teaching as a subversive activity’ to quote Neil Postman in addressing the dire need to make a meaningful change begins by rewriting the narrative on refugees.
The refugee crisis is insurmountable. UNHCR records that we have 26,4 million refugees, 48 million internally displaced people, 82,4 million forcibly displaced people in the world. The current raging wars in Syria and Yemen exacerbates all of the above including the 20 year war the USA had with Afghanistan. USA pulled out of Afghanistan with their tail between their legs and leaving the place in worse state than before thus, aggravating the plight of their loyalists who are depending on them to take them to the USA. In the USA, if they get there, they will be refugees. The life of the refugee then, from this most recent example is a life of dependency, social dislocation, identity crisis, loss of self-worth and one stripped national status. Refugees have life but, it is immersed in the boiling cauldron of misery, deprivation, psychological despair, war fatigue, human right violations and abuse amongst many other negatives too. The stories of refugees are spellbinding and inspiring. This narrative is what we must hear so that we do not classify refugees as a general group of people who are unskilled and uneducated. When challenges are seen as opportunities, life becomes meaningful.
Today I watched how Afghanistan changed hands of power and felt that life will become meaningful for the people. At the same time I wondered if the Afghan refugees would want to return to their homeland because it is one’s homeland that concretises identity, religion, culture, family and traditions. It is the homeland that shapes greatness of purpose and reasons for living and meaningful life. Therefore, it struck me harder to realise that refugees have a life and the purpose of their life is redefined when they have to live each day with the realm of uncertainty, chaos, confusion and despair. Amir Nizar’s epic journey then is symbolic of this reality. His actions show the sheer determination of the refugees to make their lives more meaningful. Refugees are always caught between a rock and a hard place. The hard place for Amir Nizar and his team is the constant travel along the thousand mile route with the same passion because it is a journey to change mindsets, alter world-views beyond the present. It is not a rock concert or an event for wealth gain but, a journey of belief to manifest to the world that refugees have a life that needs revitalisation. The revitalisation of their lives means steps towards social justice which is the harbinger of peace.
Social justice is the fabric of peaceful coexistence and harmony. Once destroyed, society is open to reprobates to flourish. In shaded background the good camouflage themselves and slowly emerge like catfish from mud holes. On the threshold of a new Afghanistan under the Taliban I am drawn to think of refugees in a different way particularly because a sector of the Afghan population are willing to be refugees in the USA including countries in Africa. The burning desire to be a refugee is somewhat gauche in this case with the Afghan because they were living under the overbearing promise of an American dream that soon became a nightmare. Now that mighty America will win the war in Afghanistan on the Hollywood set, their loyal Afghan will continue to chase the American dream. In the search of the American dream and the propaganda attached to it, being a refugee comes across as a great option. This option further diminishes the self-worth of people illustrating that wars, terror occupations and human right violations are the irrefragable reasons for the creation of a defeated mindset. A defeated mindset makes one so vulnerable for domination and control that one would think a puppet on a chain has more freedom of movement and freedom of choice.
Freedom of movement and freedom of choice is a true right of every person yet, it is denied in democratic countries as well but, comfortable living overlays the fight for freedom. It is overlaid because you can still travel freely from one place to another or visit friends and family, have unlimited choices for consumerism and lifestyles choices from the whole LBTQ+ movement. This stymies deeper understanding of what freedom really. The refugee is looking for freedom from domination, stereotyping, generalisation, restricted access to work, denied rights to education and freedom of expression. In this struggle survival is key and giving into short-lived fashion statements of freedom is not an option. Here is the impasse between us who have the so called freedom and those who really want to be free. We believe because of our indoctrination that refugees will imperil our lifestyles, swallow our food supply, take over our jobs and have a voracious appetite for looting our homes and lifestyles.
The refugee crises is not new but and old one with deeper issues because in the ‘clash of civilisations’ now we find ourselves polarising everything foreign as a threat. Every threat has to be dealt with and that is why the ‘War on Terror’ is so widely accepted. The refugee therefore, who is part of bombed up countries must be subdued into a meta-culture of displaced people who need to be civilised. Refugees then are not free of guilt. The guilt they carry is no fault of their own but, the consequence of a world order played out under the guise of human rights fuelled by a war economy and that is the tragedy. With this baggage the refugee is given a lease to make a life and because of their hunger to improve their life they battle every challenge like a soldier at war and the only economy they have is their prodigious ravenousness for success. It is a driving force greater than the daisy cutter bombs that annihilates buildings like a furnace ravaging a toothpick.
Racism is like a furnace that burns peace and inflames hate. That is the plight of refugees. They are in the furnace of racism and suffer more because in some characteristic way their lives have become disrupted by wars created for the gain of natural resources. Strangely, refugees become the natural resources of the countries they flee too. As the plundering forces rape the land of oil, gold and coal abroad, the refugee joins breadlines in first world countries making it appear that they are actually plundering the food supply. The irony of it all is that the refugee is taking what is given to him by NGOs whilst the invading forces steal in the name of justice and still claim victim status. The plight of the refugee is to shed the victim mentality and to reclaim the right to life because the refugee has a life.
When you see and hear of refugees know that they had a life of like yours with differentiation and that they were not helpless people. Their helplessness and desperation was caused by greed and fight for power and resources. The narrative of refugees has to be rewritten and it requires a deliberate practice of reading their stories with a clear mind so that they can have a chance to live happy again. While we look at the world today and the defeat of the USA in Afghanistan, we cannot forget that the Muslims of Palestine still fight for the right of return because they are people who had a homeland and are now made to be a people without a homeland. This, dear friend is the plight of refugees in the long term. Refugees want to return to claim what is rightfully theirs whilst, the occupier thrives on the refugee crisis. This absurd conundrum is the legacy of the new world order and the work of Amir Nizar Zuabi is the mosquito in the room.
There is room for change and we have to create that room because if we don’t, the refugee crisis will remain the white elephant in the room. With no one to feed it or having to feed on, it will become the raging bull that will stop at nothing gets its vengeance. The refugees too, will become the rage if their lives are trampled upon and diminished. Their stories have to be retold and recorded objectively because their narrative will change what we know. What we know is what we are told and in all cases we are told half truths baked in lies and served with prejudiced. What we need is the biggest truth and reconciliation commission on the plight of refugees so that their stories too, can be and will be lessons for our children who have become lazy, unambitious and irresponsible embedded in the lap of consumerism and luxury. Perhaps we have the refugees within our precincts as a lesson. A lesson in living and appreciating the lives we have. This realisation must become the teaching points we have to use to educate people around us because for too long now we are constipated with the filth of indoctrinated beliefs of refugees and their status.
The status of Afghanistan has changed sending shockwaves from Capitol Hill to Occupied Palestine because it tells a story of hope to the refugees. The hope that every motherland calls its people the refugees will, like the return of salmon, come home one day and reclaim what is rightfully their own. What we don’t understand is that the refugees are calling out for help to get home, to get warring factions to stop their carnage, to stop the geo-political interests for sole benefit of the occupying force, to end illegal occupation of their lands, to end hostilities that were established on the colonial imperative of dividing and ruling a people and; to end bloodshed using puppet leaders as the facade of democracy. This is the cry and it is in the faces of the vulnerable children that bear the brunt of dangerous, desperate and minacious journeys over dry land and rough seas.
Rough seas and horrendous dry land passage are gateways to destinations that are these:
Today has dawned in Afghanistan with troops leaving in cargo planes packed like sardines in a tin very hopeful of a safe journey home. The millions of refugees though, will live another day, another week, another month and another year without hope of political powers doing their job of opening gateways of freedom. This is the world we live in: the soldiers that raped, pillaged and plundered are made the heroes and given the safe passage home but, the victims of the carnage live under the yoke of another war. Refugees have a life and until we don’t see it that way, the collapse of our social world is imminent. Amir Nizar Zuabi is making a difference. Are you making a difference? If not start because your mind might be the refugee you truly have. The refugee status of your mind is when you fail to see the plea for social justice in the eyes of the millions living in squalor and deprivation.