Editing Peoples’ Stories

At college today we have been discussing migration.  We began by worshipping God together, offering prayers, reading Psalm 107:1-9 and singing one of my favourite hymns “Sizohamba Naye” – a hymn that encourages us to walk together as brothers and sisters walking with our God until God’s will for humanity is established on earth as it is in heaven.

We then listened to each others’ stories on migration.  Stories too sacred for me to share as they are personal, but stories of fleeing war, seeking safety from persecution, wanting to work, hoping to study, needing a change in life, and finding love.  People move from one place to another for many different reasons.

We then began to analyse the data.  There is a big difference between the facts on migration and what is portrayed in some of the media.  We looked at articles from three well-known newspapers in Britain.  One writer produced the most offensive article, so offensive that I do not know how the writer is not prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.  Another article likened the migrants in Calais to Hitler or Napoleon, encouraging Britain to remain an island and protect itself like it once did – with strong leadership and military might if necessary.

Both articles are written to sympathise with those who might be afraid of migrants coming into Britain.  And I do understand that Governmental resources for any nation are finite, Britain land-wise is only so big, and that people have paid into their State Pensions all their lives and are worried it won’t be there when they retire.  That is a real possiblility; ask any American relying on Social Security.  But migrants are not the cause of lack of funds in Social Security.  And there is no evidence of what will happen to State Pensions in the UK whether migrants come in or not.

I do believe people should ask appropriate questions in an appropriate manner about the use of resources.  These questions are important.  But the way the questions are asked should not in any way dehumanise people.  Especially people who are already suffering horrifically for something that is not their fault.

At the end of the day, we are talking about people.  The stories belong to them.  We should not be editing their stories to suit any nation’s political agendas or to feed fears.  These stories are sacred.  Instead of editing them, we must listen and hear.

And in hearing – respond.

Sizohamba Naye.  We go rejoicing – together as brothers and sisters – till God’s kingdom comes.

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