Editorial comment: My own experience is a million miles away from what desperate people moving into Europe are going through. In all my years I have never had a day without fresh water and good food. I have always had somewhere safe to sleep and a job when I needed work.
In the current mass movements into Europe people are moving from places where life is difficult to places where life can be better with more opportunities. Their travels across multiple countries are heroic. Various politicians are warning us to keep our heads separate from our hearts when we respond to this crisis. But there is a need for compassion and wisdom acting together. Governments have a moral duty to treat migrants properly. I hope all the decent people who want to provide food, toys, homes and jobs are supported in their good work. No one should stand in their way. Fortress Europe is neither desirable nor possible.
We should all be learning from this summer of 2015 because it could be a foretaste of something much bigger. My view of the near future is of diminishing water supplies in very many countries. Added to this is a gradual reduction in the availability of land for agriculture and widespread loss of soil fertility. The result will be a massive and sustained movement of people from arid areas going in search of life’s necessities while trying to escape the escalating land and water wars.
In anticipation of this we can learn about the reduced power of politicians in Greece, where the government has found no way of stopping the inward flow of people, and in Hungary, where people have bravely marched through into Austria regardless of what the Hungarian leaders were saying or doing.
In the wealthy west we still have the luxury of deciding how our democratic governments support people in impoverished countries and, on personal scale, whether to sell our second car to pay for a well in an African village. When people in countries where life without food and water has become impossible migrate to survive we might no longer be the ones making the big decisions.