My new neighbours

started with the first great exodus of people from the Near East towards Europe. We were suddenly aware that we were taken by surprise and that we would like to understand more about these people, each with their stories, fleeing from the war, discrimination, poverty, abuse.

This is what we wrote in November 2015, in Gevgelija, Macedonia:

“The million dollar question today is what lesson is the universe, in the form of thousands of souls arriving to this continent, sending us and whether we will know how to accept this lesson, reject it or use it for the benefit of all of us.  It is no coincidence of course that pretty much the whole world is rushing towards Europe. We could talk for hours on end how this exodus is organized, what manipulations are we witnessing on the ground and what hardships people who are coming are subjected to.

We could talk even more of global causes such as the heritage of colonialism, the theft of natural resources, the exploitation of cheap labor, corruption and unequal trade relations and policies that ensure that these causes are not disappearing but are persisting and even increasing. However, what I find most interesting at this point, is the challenge of whether we will be able to make the leap and accept the fact that the world will never be the same. Everything that had been happening in recent years in the streets and in our minds seems to have only been an overture to a symphony of many instruments which we must learn how to tune, or it will remain out of tune as long as we finally become, from permanent listening, completely deaf .

The ways people respond to the question about the admission of refugees to Europe differ: from most ordinary sentiment, such as “I will feed you and then stay away!”, to an enthusiastic insistence on the acceptance of all, in the manner of  “No borders” movement. Of course, if we look at the legal side of entry and treatment of refugees, European response is completely improvised and sometimes calls upon one law, sometimes upon the other, and lately to no law at all and is just simply humanitarian…

But the problem is that even the people do not know how to address this question. There is no  public opinion poll that could credibly capture the sentiment (here we exclude a handful of intolerants, racists and Nazis) of an average European which is somehow: “I do not want people to be miserable or to die but I’m afraid, I’m afraid of the unknown and foreign and I want to preserve my culture, my lifestyle and my standard of living“.    How to address this key question, which we do not even know precisely how to form?  Is it so scary to think that this may actually bring something good?  Maybe refugees perceive Europe as if , for them, God Himself came to Earth.  Could it be that it is precisely these people who come to us, just like our mothers and fathers used to come to New England a long time ago, who bring the answer to the existentialist  questions of our time,  the answer to our  disorientation in searching of a new world?  Although it seems incredible, but does this mean that Europe gives others hope that we ourselves have once abandoned?  Can this Europe, fragmented and desperate, in an amazing mental leap realize that, in the form of a call for solidarity and acceptance of diversity, comes salvation?”