Why refugee policies could kill us all

There is a book called No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality, which researched the horrific and heroic deeds of people attempting to survive in extreme circumstances - shipwrecks on island, plane crashes in mountains, that sort of thing.

You can listen to the authors discuss their findings here. Some of the actions by the humans involved are just awful, some difficult, some inspiring. But the authors' overwhelming findings are fascinating.

Broadly speaking: If you're stranded on an inhospitable island or equivalent with small hope of rescue, and to maximise the chances of survival you decide to let the weak ones die (or help that process along), you are almost certain to all die. The Lord of the Flies approach will kill you all.

If you help the sick, weak and needy - and fulfil some other sane requirements like ditching any alcohol, getting busy, and establishing a repeated democratic process to elect a leader who can manage those actions and ensure that compassion - you are all likely to survive. Compassion for others can save yourself.

Let's extrapolate, and look at this planet as an island (which it certainly is) and we have no hope of being rescued from it (true enough). 

The policies which Tony Abbott - the former Australian Prime Minister rejected even by his own party - is preaching to Europe fall tragically into the Lord of the Flies approach .

Don't help the needy, let the weak or helpless die, or even speed that process by forcing refugees back to the life-threatening circumstances from which they are attempting to escape.

The lessons learned in No Mercy would suggest that approach will lead to violence, horror and overwhelming failure. 

To quote the Dalai Lama (who is not alone in expressing this philosophy): "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive."

Topics:  literature opinion refugees stop the boats

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