I am on Facebook and I have friends who live in Afghanistan, and I have family who live in Afghanistan. I get an instant reaction like a knee jerk every time I see posts of children who lost a limb, are injured or dead during a roadside bombing or stepping on IED. In 2001, there was an announcement that the Taliban are gone and there is peace in Afghanistan. In my head I would imagine a country thriving and everyone living happily ever after. I went back to Afghanistan in 2007, only to find out that the war is not over for the people. They fight everyday, to live the aftermath of losing their loved ones and their homes.
As we watched a little child washed ashore on a beach in Turkey, the world wept for refugees and the children who suffered the war. In Afghanistan this happens everyday, no one takes a notice, there was a day when the world got numb to our issues, as if its part of the culture. Children dying of lack of healthcare, food, water, mine lands, and many other third world factors that a it wouldn’t cross a first world citizen’s mind because its seems so basic.
I am not sure what it is that brings the shock value to an issue, either the context or the content. In a war context everything seems like it fits the frame but in a non war touristic zone, seeing a child washed up ashore is shocking to the world. In a war context Afghanistan, children die with the same content of war and also in a war context, which does not bring the shock value, as if it blends in with the background.
In most cases the general population can not distinguish between a refugee and a criminal or a homeless poor lazy person. Refugee is just like anyone else but they fled a war context, they can be someone like your neighbour. They are people who had house, family, money, status, and dignity. They came from a different land, and didn’t choose the refugee status that comes with a stigma, stigma of laziness, poor, uneducated or a druggy homeless, who is also after you. They can be doctors, they can be professors, they can be students, and they can be children who are washed up ashore. Humans are equal in how much air and space they are allowed to take up in this world, no one owns the air, the water, or the land, its for everyone equally. Borders are made to mark geographical landmarks, they are not a psychological concept to cling to and box ourselves.
There is this stigma, the stigma of being a refugee, a muslim refugee,someone whose past has been left behind and now we labelled them and gave them a new identity and decide how to treat them and what type of things they can access to in a “free” land of ours.