A few years ago I had a series of Botox injections in my forehead. It was not for cosmetic purposes, but was to try to alleviate the pain I was experiencing from a chronic migraine headache. Sadly it did not work, but it made a significant difference to the lines on my forehead (they disappeared) and meant I could not raise my eyebrows or frown until the effects wore off (after a few weeks).
It seems to me that some Botox has been applied to some more headlines this week.
The headline yesterday was that Britain is to take 20,000 refugees.
But the Botox of spin was injected to the refugee crisis so that eyebrows were not raised and frowns could not be made. The headline did not show that this was spread over the next five years, and that equates to 76 per week. And it neglected to mention that by the end of August 2014, the UN estimated 6.5 million people had been displaced in Syria, while more than 3 million refugees had fled to countries such as Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000). That was last year! And that’s just Syria.
The UK will accept up to 20,000 people from camps surrounding Syria over the next five years, with priority given to vulnerable children.
But that’s up to 20,000. And the need is urgent now, these people can’t wait five years!
Priority is to be given to vulnerable children.
But, and here’s perhaps the place where the Botox of spin has really frozen the truth, they will only have the right to stay for five years and Lord Ashdown says that when these vulnerable and displaced children reach the age of 18 the Government says they will be deported!
Really?! That surely can’t be true can it? So far I have not heard anyone from the Government denying it…
This is described as humanitarian aid – it’s a compassionate response to a global crisis. And surely it’s better than nothing, isn’t it? We can’t help everyone. We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable. We want to stop the flow of people across Europe at source by taking people from the refugee camps. We want to stop the people traffickers who are profiting from these vulnerable people and putting their lives at risk.
I understand those points of view, but I want to draw a couple of contrasts between that approach and a couple of others:
Contrast that attitude with the people of Munich applauding and cheering as the weary refugees arrived there at the weekend.
The British announcement yesterday may be better than nothing, but in my view it’s not much better. The Botox of spin has been applied so that bad headlines can be erased, eyebrows won’t be raised and frowns will disappear. We can pat ourselves on the back for making a difference.
But Jesus had a different view of things (Matthew 25, slightly altered):
35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in [a refugee camp] and you came to visit me.”
37 ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in [a refugee camp] and go to visit you?”
40 ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
There’s no time limit or numerical limit there…
Be blessed, be a blessing