When the media talk about the persons fleeing their country to another one, the recurring term you often hear is refugee or immigrant. With that you end up seeing in the other only an immigrant with all the caricatures associated with it. There is a risk of not appreciating the other is actually a human being like you. My fear is that such mentality can lead to behaviours that are quite tragic to humanity. That is why we need to promote the language that makes us conscious that an immigrant is actually a human being.
In our globalised world living with people from different cultural backgrounds is simply part of our life today. That’s why we need to invest more energy in helping people to co-exist peacefully. Some people would like to concentrate on checking migration, however, it may not be the most necessary thing to do. It is only un imaginable to stop migration. Perhaps, it is a battle already lost. Although the intercultural encounter can be a source of mutual enrichment, unfortunately, to some people it has been a source of pain and humiliation. That is why I find the story of Ruth helpful in nurturing an attitude that is more generous and welcoming to an immigrant.
An immigrant story of success
Who is Ruth? Long story! But surely an interesting one! However, I have no intention of narrating the entire story here but it suffices to say that Ruth is one of the most revered women in the Jewish religion.
After the death of her husband Ruth left her people to go and live in a foreign land with Naomi, her mother in law. Naomi, a widow herself who was advanced in age, had practically nothing more to offer to this young lady. That’s why she advised her to remain among her own people where she would probably find a husband. However, Ruth resolved never to abandon Naomi, saying: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1, 16). Thanks to her noble character and faithful love, Ruth has become an examplary woman in the jewish world. In fact, she is an ancestor of King David, a revered king of Israel. Her story features in the Jewish scriptures and is read especially during the feast of Shavuot when Jews commemorate the giving of the Law or the feast of the first fruits.
Certainly have no problem believing that this admirable young lady was a Jew. In fact, she was not. She was an immigrant who belonged to the Moabites who were traditional enemies of Israel. If today immigrants are associated with crime and everything socially nuisance, similarly, a pagan normally enjoyed no better reputation in the Promised Land. Happily, Ruth turned the tables upside down with her humanity.
Ruth inspires another image of an immigrant
A foreigner is a huma being, who like Ruth, can perform wonders. All he needs are conditions that will enable him blosom in his humanity. In fact, the persons collectively called refugees or immigrants are actually human beings, many of them with admirable character. I personally met marvellous persons among immigrants.
In the north of Mali, precisely in Gao, I met persons of strong determination and who were ready for any sacrifice in order to realise their dream for better life. They were ready to start from zero to build their lives all over again. They took such risk not just for themselves but for their entire extended families. Yes, what they did demanded a lot of generosity and a lot of humanity. The fact that they resorted to illegal migration that in itself did not take away their bounty in humanity. These immigrants are Ruths who can accomplish marvels even in foreign lands.
What is an immigrant looking for?
An immigrant who arrives he is not normally expecting a simple life of free food and free clothing. It’s not that charity that will help him realise his dream. Well, when immigrants arrive they are tired and ill so they certainly appreciate the food and the clothing given to them, certainly only for short time. Normally, these are people with a strong fighting spirit who want to stand on their own. So they will appreciate more the welcome that enables them to get a job and earn their living, which gives them the room to realise their dream according to their plan. Many of them want work and study at the same time.
True, there are negative experiences of immigrants who have been involved in crime. Nevetheless, we find among them many Ruths who carry within them a rich treasure of humanity. All they need are favourable conditions to help them live humanly. Once that is given given not only does it help them to bring out their humanity it helps also in creating a society that is truly human.
That is why for us on this blog single humanity only one should be the major concern in welcoming immigrants: what can I do to enable the other to stand on his own and live humanly?