The refugees at the borders

Watching the pictures from Greece is breaking one’s heart. There, on the southeastern border of Europe, people are stranding on the coasts. Other people are throwing them back into the sea. The first feel compelled to leave their homeland. The others feel compelled to defend theirs.

On the other hand, Austria, in the center of Europe, does not have external borders. It is one of the richest countries in the world. Living in Austria means belonging to a privileged part of mankind. One can be grateful for that. And one should know that this is not your own merit. Therefore we can ask ourselves: How can we show solidarity with the poor and weak without becoming poor and weak ourselves?

In autumn 2015, refugees from the war zones in the Middle East came to Austria in bulk. At that time many of us donated a large part of their money, their time and their energy and offered their apartments as quarters. These experiences changed our lives. It was a very fulfilling time, and we all learned a lot.

Politically, most of us do not belong to a “camp”. We are neither “left” nor “right”, sometimes we are progressive, sometimes conservative. There are some people who want to take in refugees to Europe, no matter where from. And there are some people who want to send refugees back, no matter where to. The “Leftists” dream of opening the borders, the “Rightists” dream of closing them. Both extremes are nightmares because they always hit the weakest.

History teaches us that social conditions can change quickly. Peace, freedom, security and prosperity cannot be taken for granted. It is always about the balance of interests. But there are also people with secure jobs, secure incomes and secure living conditions abusing other people to play their political game.

This game is played on both sides, on the “left” and on the “right”. “Leftists” demand unconditional acceptance of people in Austria, “Rightists” demand unconditional deportation. Differing opinions and dissent is not tolerated any more. This is how “left” and “right” drive people into the arms of radicals.

Both “left” and “right” are wrong. The slogan “Open the borders! We have space” is just as stupid as “Close the borders! We have no space.” We neither have to transport refugees to Central Europe, as the “Leftists” suggest, nor do we have to leave them alone in Greece, as the “Rightists” propose. We always have the opportunity to help at site, right at the borders.

It is the characteristics of borders that opposites come together. We can stop the refugee crisis. This needs money, time and energy. Above all, however, it is important to create peace. Radical slogans cause the opposite, both from “left” and from “right”. Peace begins with the reconciliation of opposites. Peace begins at the borders.

ORF: “Neighbour in need

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