The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Refugees: Some Perspective Needed

It is impossible these days to watch TV, read a newspaper, or even log into social media and not find a story about refugees.  Those of us in the rich, western-styled nations display two, opposing, responses.
On one hand there are those that want to reach out to refugees, who want to embrace them and welcome them into their homes and homelands.

Then there are those who want to “protect our borders,” “turn back the boats,” or “keep our country for ourselves.”

I am no expert on refugees, but it does seem that some historical perspective needs to be taken on the refugee crises.  It can be humbling and revealing to take a long-term, historical and cultural perspective on the issues.

The Word Refugee

The word refugee comes from the French refugier, meaning to take shelter or protection.  The first use of the term refugee to describe a group of people fleeing persecution is, indeed, French.  During the 17th century the Huguenots (French protestants) became increasingly persecuted by Louis XIV, with many being killed, and half a million becoming the worlds first “refugees,” fleeing France to other, more tolerant, European nations.

In 1914 the term refugee came to mean “a person fleeing home,” and was applied to thousands of civilians in Flanders escaping the atrocities of World War I and fleeing into Holland, France and elsewhere.  The second World War saw even greater mass exoduses of European people from war, starvation and persecution.

Further Back

For centuries European nations have sought to conquer lands well outside the European continent.  For almost four centuries from the 11th century onwards, nations of western Europe invaded and terrorised those of the so-called Holy Lands via the Crusades.  Many would argue that those attempts at conquest were the genesis of many of the problems in the Middle East today.

Between the 16th and 20th centuries European nations embarked upon another take-over endeavour – this time known as colonialism.  The period saw several European nations expand into and conquer lands in Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.  The latter half of the 19th century saw massive migration of Europeans to these lands – some 40 million people.

This massive migration had a devastating effect upon the indigenous populations of those lands.  Migrants brought disease, an unthinking sense of superiority, and a destructive force that has not been repeated since.


With these understandings in mind those of us in western-styled nations would do well to reflect upon the following when considering the plight of modern-day refugees:
  • Europeans were amongst the worlds first refugees.
  • Europeans have contributed to the very conditions that many of todays refugees wish to flee from.
  • Europeans have been the largest group of migrants in the world.
  • Europeans have no moral justification for refusing modern day refugees a right to safety, dignity and freedom.
In the above, by European I include also those people who live in countries outside of Europe,1 but who trace their descent form European colonisers, conquerors or migrants.

1. The use of the word “western-styled” is deliberate.  There are many nations who are western-styled in their cultural roots, ways of life and belief systems that are not necessarily of the “west.”  These include countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA.

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