Last night I watched Kevin McCloud on TV, filming a British family who’ve chosen to sell up in London and live on the side of a volcano in Chile. I loved their adventurous spirit, their ‘just do it’ attitude. This morning I listen to the news on the radio about more migrants drowning in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. How does it come to this?
The relative wealth of Europe is in stark contrast to the countries that the migrants come from. Listening to the interview this morning, I’m struck though, that it’s not only material wealth – it’s the wealth of freedom and hope. One young man said “you can do anything in Europe – I want to study”.
In contrast, the family now living in Chile, spoke of being trapped by the rat race in London, doing jobs they didn’t particularly love, living a life they didn’t love, and only seeing more of the same for their kids. They wanted adventure for sure, but they also wanted to live more lightly, valuing natural beauty and time with each other while their kids were young. I couldn’t help but identify with their desire to live differently (though I’m not sure I could be as hard core as them and live on the side of a volcano). They get to choose to live differently, because they sold their London house, because they had studied, because they had the wealth to trade in. The young migrant who nearly drowned in the Med had none of those on his journey.
I hope the young migrant gets to study, to work, to build a life he loves. Europe needs young talent to grow and prosper – and anyone who’s had the commitment to get here surely has something to offer.
But his home country needs it more. Building the freedoms, creating the businesses, generating the wealth – closing the wealth & inequality gap between Europe and its neighbours is the only long term way to stop this human tragedy playing out in the Med.