From top: Syrian refugee children at a refugee camp in Jordan; Dan Boyle
Some will take perverse satisfaction that the recent budget instituted a further cut in Ireland’s level of overseas development aid.
But we all lose from this parsimony.
Dan Boyle writes:
This weekend I posted my US ballot paper. The confluence of my American birth along with my partial UK residency, combined with my being Irish, has seen me vote in three different jurisdictions this year.
In making people aware of this quirky fact, it seems that I have upset some. It’s been suggested to me that I am somehow in breach of the ‘one man one vote’ principle.
I’ve always taken that to apply only to a particular election. If taken as being literal than maybe we each should only vote once in an election and then never do so again. Anytime. Anywhere.
It’s a privilege I’m unlikely to hold again. What it raises for me are questions about citizenship and residency. The having of a some sense of belonging.
We Irish have a history of migration. It has been and is part of my own family’s story. Our’s is far from a unique experience. How this has informed me is a lack of tolerance I hold towards people who argue we should ‘look after our own first’.
Outside of the likelihood that people who make this argument don’t usually seem inclined to look after anyone, the question of who gets to determine who our own are is something I find deeply disturbing.
This questioning isn’t purely an Irish experience. We unfortunately live in a time where isolationism, fear of others, and an exaggerated sense of patriotism, hold too great an influence.
Our affinities are and should be complex. We identify with the idea of community at many levels. Investing all, or a high degree of such affinity entirely towards the nation state, diminishes us all. If we ignore the international dimension of our lives we resign ourselves to living in bleak bunkers.
There are many needs within our ambit that we can and should be addressing – homelessness, growing inequality, limiting opportunities.
These are unaddressed needs whose existence shames us. Where our problems differ from those found elsewhere is that we don’t lack the means, but we are unable to provide the will towards solving these social wrongs, once and for all.
This ongoing failure on our part should never be an excuse to ignore our responsibility towards the wider World. The recent budget instituted a further cut in Ireland’s level of overseas development aid. This now stands at less than one third of one per cent of our national wealth, less than half of what we have promised to commit at the United Nations.
Some will take perverse satisfaction from this. However we all lose from this parsimony. A poorer World becomes a more dangerous World – a reverse self fulfilling prophecy where ignorance holds ever greater sway.
Nowhere can this effect be more clearly seen than the collective international response to the humanitarian crisis of our time – that of Syria.
The overwhelming number of refugees, hundreds of thousands of them, are living in tented cities in Lebanon, Turkey and in Jordan. A far smaller proportion of people are seeking new lives in Europe.
For their having the desire to live better lives, they get to be described as a hoard of probable murders intent on undermining our way of life.
Naked racism may be more obvious and more prevalent elsewhere, but that should give no comfort for us in Ireland for failing to live up to our global obligations. We live these days in a more open World, where millions move and are being moved from their homes, their communities, and their long held certainties.
For those of us who live in democratic societies, we have the privilege of encouraging the more effective use of resources, the more appropriate application of policy, the most human approach from our public services.
Wherever my vote can influence such outcomes I will always act to ensure that it will be cast.