Migration With European Values in Mind

Opportunistic politicians in many European countries, including Belgium, blame migrants for their governments’ failed policies. In Flanders, the far-right party has 23% of trust, the highest among all political parties. 

Yesterday, a migrant-entrepreneur told me that he would vote for Vlaams-Belang. Now, I am asking myself what we are not seeing or communicating well. Why do so many people want to legitimize hatred, even if it fires back against them? 

The spirit of hatred cannot manifest itself when there is a consensus in society that hatred is evil. When this consensus breaks, influence, money, and connections finally allow the wildest imagination to be realized: segregation, dehumanization, and the emotionless destruction of the “enemy of the people.”

The reality of wars in and out of Europe is harsh. Yet our knowledge of it starts with education and information. I have been reading books and watching movies that explain how, in a short period of time, an intelligent person can become an intelligent animal and justify it to himself for years. 

A few years ago, I read “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron: a Polish mother, when brought up before the Nazi military, had to choose which one of her children had to go to the concentration camp and which one – to burn in the chamber. She let her 8-year-old daughter go burn and saved her 5-year-old son. This decision she took within one minute – under shock – on the order of one man who knew no empathy. 

By the way, no one thinks today that negotiations with the Nazis would bring peace. Victory did. 

The victory in WW2 brought human rights and social justice to Europe. Yes, they are not perfect, but they are the most perfect of whatever exists in the whole world. 

These values were established as a result of the tremendous pain of many different people who have been and will always be neighbors. 

In search of peace and prosperity that these values bring with them, migrants leave their countries and come to Europe. These values should be at the core of European migration policy. 

Books like “Man in Search of Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, “The Order of the Day” by Eric Vuillard, “The World of Yesterday” by Stefan Zweig, as well as films “The Pianist,” “The Banker’s Resistance,” “The Zookeeper’s Wife” should be mandatory for all who come to or live in Europe already. Learning the basics of human rights and European history and the basics of the law of the country of residence should be a pre-requisite for full integration into society. It should be learned in schools and universities, as well as be part of exchange and mentorship programs. 

This would be our response to the far-right extremism in order to have a safe future for our kids in Europe and to give hope to all the people who suffer from tyranny and injustice elsewhere.


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