A few months ago I saw the picture above on the Refugee Aware Twitter feed and instantly saved it. I didn’t like it, not for want of proper lightening, perspective, perfect distance or any of the many nuances that make one go ‘wow’ at a picture. As a matter of fact it was, in my opinion a perfectly taken picture; the angle was perfect, the distance was revelatory, and the lightening was aptly engaging, considering the situation; every element reinforcing a sense of foreboding, fear and relentlessness.
I have seen that picture before. Well, not quite the same one but several others with similar colours, tone, shade, shadows, perspective, inducing a sense of foreboding and an aura smacking of desperation, fear and determination. I saw that picture in the last zombie movie I saw, and the one before that, and the one… Well, you catch my drift.
In the movies, once the, shall we say ‘zombie epidemic’ breaks and the authorities finally accept – often following tragedy too close to home – that the stories were no ‘old wives’ tales’ borne out of boredom or a twisted sense of mischief, they build barriers and walls, trying to keep the infected out. Their motivation: fear of infection and death. On the one side of the barrier are soldiers with guns and on the other side the undead, clawing at the walls, stirred by the smell of blood, driven by the singular urge to kill and feed.
Does this remind you in any way of how we treat refugees and asylum seekers? We often treat them as though they are infected with a disease that would eventually wipe out the world as we know it. Most of our governments treat them like a cancerous cell that must be dealt with; a thing to be loathed and feared.
Often, when confronted with the stark reality that there is a sea of people banging on the barriers of our borders, crying to be let in, we play Jekyll and Hyde. We lose our humanity. We become absolutely petrified. We begin to think of the consequences and spend hours doing so, instead of looking for a solution.
Granted, once you let them in you’re not sure what you get. I don’t wish to trivialise this, but it’s pretty much like a bag of nuts. You’re likely to get a bad one in the mix. Does it mean you throw the whole bag away? We’re afraid we’ll get the good with the bad and the ugly. We fear letting them in would take an enormous toll on our security, health and economic apparatuses. Tough, isn’t it? But government are elected to deal with the things we cannot. To separate the good from the bad and the ugly. To find a way. A solution.
So what does it say of our governments and us, if we fail to save a life because that life might strap a bomb to their chest one day? What does it say of us when we neglect the many in fear of the few? Must we substitute humanity with fear? And if we do lose that which makes as human, have we then not become that which we fear? Are we then not the zombies?