Qui di seguito riportiamo un articolo elaborato da una nostra partecipante dello scambio Solidarity First: development of an united society implementato lo scorso mese. Il suo nome è Lucia Brozmannová e viene dalla Slovacchia.
The limits of solidarity of EU citizens
February 2022. Although the war did not break out on the territory of the European Union, it has already changed the way it will be perceived in the world. Citizens of individual member states with open arms, help at borders and beyond, or compassionate statements from state representatives. In a word – solidarity. The citizens of the union have proven to be truly compassionate, understanding and helpful. But is it really so? I still vividly remember the migration crisis of 2015. People coming to Europe, begging for help. Their whole life packed in a few bags, without a clear vision of what to do next, but with one goal – to run away from the war. The situation almost identical to the current one, but with one difference, many citizens of the European Union refuse to help. As I read in one comment on Facebook, a Ukrainian is not a Syrian. What is our understanding of solidarity then? I will illustrate the situation in the model of Slovakia because it is a truly unique example. During the most significant part of the migration crisis in 2015, 330 persons applied for asylum in Slovakia, in 2016 146 persons. The situation was very different from, for example, Germany, where tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people were waiting for help at railway stations and on the streets. However, the citizens of Slovakia had a significantly more negative and dismissive attitude towards refugees – they voted against the redistribution of refugees and rejected any expressions of mandatory belonging. It is difficult to come up with a reason why this is so, but I will try to offer at least a few possible reasons. The first is fear. One of the frequent arguments of people against refugees from some countries is that people from countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, or the aforementioned Syria will destroy our country and will not behave according to the rules we set. They will rape women, and children and build mosques everywhere. On the other hand, I can say from my experience that Slovaks themselves often break the rules and I know refugees who try their best to find a job and fit into society. Of course, this is not always the case and there are many exemplary Slovaks as well as people from other countries who do not respect the rules. Nothing is simply black and white. An equally frequent argument is that people from other countries will steal our jobs and we will have to humble ourselves to be able to help them. In fact, we live in the most prosperous times today. Many families own two cars, we go shopping for clothes at least once a month, and I’m not even talking about the need for a new phone for hundreds to thousands of euros every year. We would like to close the doors of our luxury homes and not let anyone in. We think it’s not our problem. But what makes us so rich? The first prerequisite is to be born in a rich country. It is undoubtedly easier for a European to find a job and get fairly paid for it than for someone living in Lebanon, for example. And to what do we owe the fact that we were born in Europe? Nothing but chance. Although it may not be easy to admit, Europe is partly to blame for the problems in less developed countries. The 19th century is after all referred to as the age of European expansion or imperialism. The colonists forcibly settled the territories where the natives lived, and took their land, thereby depriving them of a source of food. They forced them to work and made them “slaves” without any human rights. Torture and murder were frequent phenomena in colonial politics. Because of this, the colonial countries could not progress as much as their colonialists. But it did not end with the 19th century. We still do not treat some countries equally. We don’t mind exploitation due to cobalt mining in Africa, it is still possible to shop here in fast-fashion stores that demonstrably do not pay their workers. We don’t care, it doesn’t happen here. No one chose which country he would be born into and what chances he would have in life. It’s just our luck that we were born in a part of the world where we don’t suffer from hunger, we have a place to live and we don’t have to live in fear of our lives every day. The European Union stands for solidarity and has shown that it can help. It should promote its values without limits. Europeans should be in solidarity with people who were not lucky in life and often through no fault of their own, and overcome their fear and prejudice. So let’s try solidarity without limits.