Today I wanted to open up the floor to a close personal friend of mine and fellow expat, Michelle Exarhos. Michelle was born and raised in the United States but is, in fact, half Danish. Here she shares her views on the recent refugee scenario playing out in Denmark and the rest of Europe
Anyone who is living in Denmark right now can completely agree with the statement above and know where I am coming from. It has become the go to topic for people everywhere, regardless of where they are in Denmark: Sjaelland, Jutland, Fyn or Lolland; sooner or later, the pink elephant in the room will be brought up and the masses begin to discuss.
When thinking of something to discuss, this seems only fitting on a website dedicated to Denmark and everything that involves Danish people, culture, ideas and current events. However, for me there seems to be only one real answer.
Now before you think you know where I am going, I must preface this with saying, that yes I have lived in Denmark for over 3 years, and yes I am an immigrant to a foreign country. I come from a capitalist nation, and now live in a socialist nation, however at the end of the day there is a common denominator: I am still human.
No matter where we come from, where we are going, or where we have been, we all still have basic human needs: Food, water, shelter, love, safety, and community. These things do not change depending on if you are a first world country or a third world country, and it is of this I am reminded of every time I see photos, read articles, or hear opinions on the refugees.
I don’t mean to sound cliché or naïve, but we can’t turn a blind eye anymore. Did we start the war? No. Should we have stepped in sooner? Maybe. Is it really our responsibility? Who can say? But what we can say is that it is on our doorstep and history is being made. In 20 years, people will look back on this time and say, “What did you do? How did it all go down? What would we do differently?” And I know for one that I do not want to look back at this time and tell my children or grandchildren that I sat back and was too concerned about my “comfort level” or was too busy trying to figure out “who’s responsibility it was” to take care of these people.
I know the arguments. Denmark is a small country and how much can we really do. We can never be Germany who can take hundreds of thousands of people, but we can make small differences: Welcome the few refugees who come here. Be NICE to the refugees that have ALREADY come here. Heck, just be nice to your neighbors! When is the last time you actually brought your neighbors something you baked? If my 94 year old grandmother can manage it, I think we can too.
The thing is, it’s one earth, it’s one world. We have to somehow share and live together, so why not live every day the best we can, and try to help pave a better road for these people who are risking their lives to come to our safe little haven, Denmark, where we are fortunate enough to live in a country with freedom, social benefits but most of all, a secure environment for our children to grow up. No matter where you come from, that is something we can all agree on.