A normal life

The social conception of life has led men, by a natural transition from love of self and then of family, tribe, nation, and state, to a consciousness of the necessity of love for humanity, a conception which has no definite limits and extends to all living things. And this necessity for love of what awakens no kind of sentiment in a man is a contradiction which cannot be solved by the social theory of life. (...)
With the Christian conception of life, love is not a necessity and is confined to no object; it is the essential faculty of the human soul. Man loves not because it is his interest to love this or that, but because love is the essence of his soul, because he cannot but love. — L. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You

It is hol­i­day time in Europe, so there is a lot of trav­el­ing going on. A lot of Britons are leav­ing the coun­try via the Dover-Calais cross­ing. In recent weeks, that was not so easy. The hol­i­day­ing Britons in search of the sun are faced by a large group of refugees who are try­ing to enter the UK from Calais. Last night, more than 1,500 peo­ple tried to enter the Euro­tun­nel, which of course caus­es a lot of chaos and delays.

This prob­lem is not new. In 1999, the San­gat­te refugee camp was opened in a big depart­ment store out­side Calais. But in 2002 riots broke out between Kurds and Afghans in the crowd­ed camp and it was closed. Since that time the migrants live in so-called “jun­gles” — makeshift tent camps with­out facil­i­ties. The French gov­ern­ment allows this in for­mer chem­i­cal dump­ing grounds. Ear­li­er this year, the day cen­tre Jules Fer­ry was opened, where peo­ple can get one hot meal per day. Cur­rent­ly there are about 3,000 migrants in the jun­gle. It is one of the routes tak­en by refugees if they sur­vive the Mediter­ranean Sea cross­ing. This film by the Guardian gives an idea of life in the camp:

These peo­ple are des­per­ate and can not go on with their life with­out a res­i­dence per­mit. They fled vio­lence in Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan and Syr­ia. The dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups some­times have con­flicts with each oth­er. But now they begin to work togeth­er. This is high­light­ed by the new tac­tics that we saw this week. Instead of try­ing to climb up trucks (which we saw when we moved to the UK), they now tried to direct­ly get into the Euro­tun­nel with a group. The goal is to climb on a train or on a truck that has already been throught customs.

The only answer that British politi­cians give today is ‘fences and secu­ri­ty’. All of it reminds me too much of the world in the film Chil­dren of Men. If the refugees are only seen as a secu­ri­ty prob­lem, a trou­ble­some spot on our shiny Euro­tun­nel, they are not rec­og­nized as human beings. Even­tu­al­ly, migrants are look­ing for a nor­mal life with school and work. Some­thing that has always been a nat­ur­al thing to me. I can­not imag­ine what it would be like to flee for thou­sands of kilo­me­tres and risk your life in order to build a ‘nor­mal life’.