Saturday, 26 January 2013

The disposessed

 I'm a member of a social network called Survive France. The members are anglophone (predominantly) expats living in France who support each other with questions, concerns, solutions, news. Most of them are British. This week the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron  made great political noises about the possibility of Britain quitting the European Union. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen but I'm sure he gave no thought to the effects this threat could have on British expats living in Europe. At present they have the right to live and work in the EU. If they stop being citizens of the EU what happens to them?

Some of them were mightily unsettled and a bit worried about how they would survive in a world where they no longer had rights in a country they now call home. Would they be evicted? Would they be in my precarious position? What would happen to them when they were sick or needed to retire? What would be the status of their children? What would happen to their rights to free schooling?

I'm totally sickened at the way politicians use people as pawns. There's growing despair everywhere. And this raises an interesting though very scary question. What happens to people who suddenly find themselves countryless? Even if you still retain citizenship of a country you may not be able to go back because you no longer have any rights to social assistance of any form. you can't stay where you are because your current country wants to evict you.  This isn't new in poorer war-torn parts of the world but now it's happening in the no-longer-civilised ones we live in.

It seems to me that there may be, in the not so far off future, an enormous group of dispossessed, displaced persons with nowhere to go, no means of support in any country, no family to take them in. They might be any age. This is a recipe for human disaster on a grand scale never seen before. It scares me because I can see this could happen to me unless I keep getting lucky. Lucky these days is to have a job somewhere. How did things sink so low?  Old values went out the window, greed took over and we let other people take charge of our lives.
For decades we've been encouraged to move around the planet, seek opportunities, develop our skills. And when we haven't been encouraged we've been pushed very firmly by impending personal financial disaster if we don't. I thought we were a global village - turns out that's a hollow construction which is turning around to bite us in the bum. But what can we do?

It's hard to see how this endemic mess can be sorted out positively for the people involved. We are living through times unprecedented in terms of scale of rape of resources, environment and people's rights to help themselves for a better life. I feel very strongly about the human tragedies unfolding, the carelessness and selfishness of those with the power to change things for the better but who won't. We honestly need a people's revolution but that brings down disasters of its own on those undeserving of them. I hate injustice, greed, selfishness and aggression and most of all the energy sapping, hope-numbing helplessness many folks face.

I felt very uncomfortable reading some of the posts on Survive France Network  of those who are so vulnerable. I myself feel like flotsam and jetsam in this world and that really gets up my nose. Those who go through very bad times wish they'd been born into another era. I think my parents had the best this world had to offer and it's all downhill from there. So, although I sound bleak, I think it's important to have a plan, even though it may not be much of a one, where you come up with a couple of possible scenarios as to how to survive until you die and hope you don't have to use them. In the meantime create human connections for emotional and practical support and find a little bit of love out there. 

Yesterday a tanker driver who was pumping up some sewerage guided me to a little space hidden behind his tanker where I could park at work. it was the only space around. He saw me and with a smile and a kind thought connected briefly with me. In response he got a beautific smile and heartful best wishes. Sometimes that's all we have but in those moments it's enough.


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