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Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Day of Shame: Identity, Indifference and Humanity - Part 3

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

 

Part 3: Humanity Denied!



Before starting this last entry, I wish to share a few verses inspired from the words that are attributed to Martin Niemöller as I can see the danger in arguments and action that seem to imply that our human rights can be negotiated or, worse, put to the majority vote. I am painfully aware that, as a disabled person, many (if not all) of the rights I and other disabled people, would have prevailed and it's only because of some pioneers that made sure our rights should be legally recognised that we can say that we have more opportunities today - even if there's more to be done to gain real equality for disabled people. But I digress, so here are the adapted version of Martin Niemöller's speech foe our local reality as I am currently perceiving it::


 

Now, they were coming for the migrants,

And we said nothing...


Then they came for those who were Muslims...
And we said nothing.

Then they robbed once who identified themselves as LGBT of their rights...
And we said nothing...

Then they attacked the environmentalists...
And as nature was dying...
Our mouths were still shut...
They would also make ones protecting human rights of minorities and other discriminated groups appear to be unpatriotic...
And we still said nothing.
Then, when they came after us...
No one was  there to defend us!


I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but unless we don't speak together against injustice perpetrated on others, we have lost our claim to our own rights. Unless we come together and really together on issues concerning human rights, then all expressions of solidarity and talks social inclusion remain simply empty rhetoric.

When people in my own country forget their humanity, these people seeking refuge become a group of people robbed of an identity. At the same time, we choose to impose our own prejudice and assumptions on them turning them to monsters and even savages. When we look at them, there is a danger that we project our own fears onto them.

Perhaps we fear of losing our own identity. Rejecting them would mean that we cling to the delusion that we’re far better than them or more ‘civilised’ than them. We might have believed that they were poor people suffering from famine and starvation. We might still have an image of those children with swollen stomachs. We might have pitied them. We might have thought of Africans as savages without a history or tradition. Like the Africans of that distorted Africa found in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

In many ways, I feel that I must speak up against any attempt to reduce the rights of these people we call immigrants. I feel that I am also an outsider. In spite of any nice things said about disabled people, there are still many who harbour deep inside a certain resentment and fear of becoming like us - which is likely to happen as they age. I am, like the immigrant, an outsider - the other. And being the ‘other’ makes me a threat to the social order. For, in fully accepting me and people who are different, society would have to face the reality that we are more like each other than we are different. And while our differences matter, they are not fundamental to who we are. The day when we even considered sending people back to most certain torture, humiliation and death can’t be ever justified.

It was a day of shame for us and for Malta when we were close to to remain indifferent to our fellow human beings for the sake of making a political point.

While we may come to be forgiven for these actions, I believe we must make sure that we don’t forget. Even if the public has a short memory and the media is always looking for the next controversy, we can’t afford to forget. For forgetting would mean that next time we may actually have blood on our hands.

My last thoughts in haiku:


Yes, we must forgive...
But I refuse to forget...
This moment of shame.


End of series!


READ THE WHOLE SERIES:
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

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