If I were a European

Closing column for the debate How to Improve the European Asylum Policy , Humanity House / Asielzoekmachine, The Hague, May 19th, 2016

If I were a child, walking next to my mother, holding her hand,

along the winding roads of the Promised Land, hungry and thirsty,

with mud under my fingernails and blisters under my feet,

the memory of my hometown far away,

and no other wish than a nice toy to play with and to hear the voice of my father again –

I would certainly know what had to be done to end this crisis.

If I were an architect, analyzing the ruins of a city devastated by bombardments,

its houses, shops, monuments, public buildings and sacred places crumbled to dust,

reflecting on the reconstruction of the city, realizing what this means for the identity of its inhabitants – I would certainly know what had to be done.

If I were a journalist, watching the daily news, planning my writings and consulting my editor, making appointments and doing some research,

being touched every now and then by the images and reports coming from another reality, where history is being written today –

I would know what to do.

If I were a smuggler, talking and looking around, doing business at the edge of civilization,

making promises to refugees and victims of war,

cashing and organizing, having a lunch and drinking my coffee afterwards,

then talking and looking around again, cashing and organizing, doing business at the edge –

I knew certainly what to do.

If I were a politician, standing tall on a platform, listening well to my voters,

being brave, being part of a bigger movement, of a bigger idea,

knowing my words, my great words, will cause a landslide, because the welfare of my nation is my only goal –

I would certainly know what to do to end this crisis.

Unfortunately, I could only be one of these.

But if only I could be this politician, this smuggler, this journalist, this architect, this child, at the same time

What would I do? How would I act?

Which emotion, which need, which ambition, which wish would prevail?

And if I were a European,

would I show to my guests, also those who were not invited,

but fled from war, poverty or starvation –

would I show to them the treasures which are kept here,

the palaces, the skylines decorated with silk and gold,

the memorials of genocide and destruction,

the terraces on the waterfront, covered with food and drinks.

The good ideas of brotherhood and justice,

the bad ones of racism and indifference.

Our incredible history of welfare, democracy and safety for all,

and our incredible history of discrimination and humiliation.

Fortunately, I am a European. All of this is true, it’s inside of me and it’s all around.

Fortunately, we have a union. Imagine we didn’t.

So let me show to my guests, both the invited and the uninvited, the treasures which are kept here,

and if they still want to stay here then,

let me feed them and give them a home.