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GARAS

I’ve just counted seventy-four conflicts,

In which this country has been involved

Since the start of the nineteenth century:

This martial country:

Is this my heritage?

Is this my consequent national identity?

But it’s all a bit confusing isn’t it? National identity, I mean.

I mean:

This martial country, This Land of Hope and Glory Rule Britannia God Save the Queen England’s mountains green Dark Satanic mills United Kingdom Subject Citizen befuddlement

Sort of country: ‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature, for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in a silver sea …’

Brexit.

Nigel Farage.

Liz Truss.

Her Christmas card –

Draped in a union flag,

A globe to her right,

Ripe for her plucking.


But do you remember when you were young, Writing your name and address in a new book, Street, town, county, country, continent, world, universe: That innocence was also an intuitive understanding Of our dual identity as both national and world citizens, A duality borne out by the work done by individuals at

The Gloucestershire Association for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

GARAS opens the door to support those seeking asylum in Gloucestershire, welcoming them when they arrive, advocating for them in their daily struggles, supporting them if they face being sent back and helping them adjust to their long term future if they are recognised as ‘refugees’. We work with those arriving within the asylum process and those being resettled here. Our clients have fled persecution (including imprisonment, torture and abuse), conflict, famine or hardship in their home country and taken extreme risks to reach a place of safety. All are desperate for security and respect and to rebuild their personal and working lives in peace.’

Now let’s read or listen to the words of Nesrine Malik,

The Guardian, Monday 29th November 2021,

‘Borders aren’t accidents – but being born within them is an accident. Your entire life is an accident, a random luck of the draw. You do not deserve to be here, any more than anyone else deserves to be here.

These are obvious, almost banal observations. But many will resist them. Even if they acknowledge their truth, many will feel an urge to argue against them. That is because two large political constructions have dominated our way of thinking for so long, presented as facts and not choices – these accidental borders must be enforced as strictly as possible, and we, as individuals in free-market societies, are the sole architects of our own prosperity. These two lies allow wealth to accrue in private hands and ensure that as little of it is shared as possible, whether through higher taxes, more open borders or increased spending.

If you become convinced that you have won your place on this earth through hard graft, then you are more likely to support policies and ideologies that facilitate the hoarding of resources. It is harder to part with what you have when you believe that those who are in need of it had the same shot as you but simply didn’t pull their weight. In the UK, we have perfected a framing whereby the helpless are portrayed as feckless. Britain has made a national sport of condemning migrants, single mothers, people on benefits – an entire cast of characters who dared to be born in need. They support a national delusion of perfect meritocracy, of deserves and deserves-nots, which in turn sustains our closed borders, purses and hearts.

This is why people shrug and move on when others die in the cold waters of the Channel. This is why nothing changes. This is why we fail to understand how our entire history as a species has been shaped by the inevitability and necessity of the movement of people.

The only thing that is not an accident is that if you go back far enough, everyone is born where they are because someone in their lineage, at some point, deliberately moved to find a safer place for their progeny. They gave their descendants better odds. The only decent thing to do is to spread those winnings around.’

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