As I write this, the bodies of hundreds of people are being pulled from the water off the coast of Libya, after two boats sank, drowning women, men, and children migrating in desperation from places like Syria, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa.
The images become a horrific blur. Last week: Riot police in Macedonia firing tear gas at thousands of families trying to cross the border from Greece. April: Seven hundred people dying when a smuggling ship sank off the coast of Italy. Right now: Officials recovering the bodies of 71 people found rotting in a refrigerator truck left on the side of a road outside Vienna. We don’t know who these 71 people were, only small heart wrenching details: three of them were children, a Syrian passport was found. What we know is that they were migrating, that they were 71 of the millions of people around the world who have been uprooted from their home countries by economic, political, and climate chaos.
The global magnitude of this chaos is staggering. The numbers for 2015 continue to swell, possibly higher than the 59.5 million people the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says were forcibly displaced in 2014. In other words, one in every 122 human beings on the planet is now either a refugee, asylum-seeker, or a person who has been internally displaced. Here in the US, thousands of African Americans were displaced by hurricane Katrina and the “second storm” of racism that followed in the water’s wake, with many still demanding their right of return.
All this is a shadow of the migration that is to come. In the years ahead we face huge waves of migration by economic, political and climate refugees, at an almost unimaginable scale.
Tonight, as I write this, I ask myself who is responsible. I ask myself what can we do.
What I know is that we are all responsible.
What I know is that we all must act.
What I know is that people, in defiance of states, must embrace our global human family and provide refuge and support to those who have been pushed off of their lands due to growing economic inequality, climate drought, war and conflict.
What I know is that the President’s Trans Pacific Partnership will make this problem one hundred times worse and one thousand times harder to solve through “legal means.” It will create the conditions that will accelerate harm and increase human trafficking and the loss of human life.
What I know is that we must open borders, stop criminalizing migration and migrants, and defy any state that does violence to members of our shared human family.
What I know is that we are living in a time in which we will truly live together as brothers and sister or perish together as fools. I know those are our only choices. I know the cries of those dying at sea warn us of what lies ahead for all of us.
What I know is that even if all our “clean power” dreams were implemented today, the level of climate disaster already underway will continue to drive huge levels of human migration as people leave their lands in search of places where there is enough water to grow food so their children can eat.
What I know is that we must continue the fight for climate mitigation, but step up our work on adaptation and increasing social equity. Embracing all migrants and our global human family is a core responsibility in everything we do.
What I know is that even as we insist that our government bring to an end policies rooted militarism, materialism, and racism – the policies that are driving this migration — we cannot to wait for states to take action.
What I know is that we must insist – immediately in the upcoming Paris climate talks — that our national, state and local governments do all they can to protect human life by reversing the impacts of climate change.
What I know is that we must pour all our hearts and souls into the movements for global democracy, global governance, and people-to-people sovereignty.
What I know is that there is no such thing as domestic policy or foreign policy in an interconnected world. We must insist that all national leaders act in the interest of our global family.
What I know is that we must find ways to be good neighbors, to defy the state and provide safe harbor to those pushed out of their homes by an economy that has benefited many of us at the expense of the rest of the world. I know we can and should insist that our government mitigate the harm of human trafficking. To end this trafficking we must end the violent inequality that drives it.
What I know is that we must pledge allegiance to our global human family. Migration is a human right.
My pledge is this:
I pledge allegiance to my global human family and to
defend the web of life that is our home.
One world. One love. One family.
I vow to defy the state or any authority
that promotes violence, hate or
the lie of separation.
In the name of love
What is your pledge?